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Queen & Slim Reviews

Melina Matsoukas steps up to her feature-length directorial outing in style with Queen and Slim, the powerful story of two young, black, fate-crossed individuals as written by James Frey (A Million Little Pieces) and Lena Waithe (Bones).   After a less-than-successful blind date arranged through Tinder, Slim (Daniel Kaluuya) is on his way to drop Queen (Jodie Turner-Smith) off at home. But a swerve and a missed stop sign lead to a traffic stop, a struggle, and ultimately a dead policeman lying in the snow. This changes their lives and also their opinions of each other as the two try to survive and escape, even as they are both vilified and glorified after the public release of a video of the encounter.   The story is steady, although there are a few brief slow moments. There is one violently shocking scene that seems forced into the script to make a point, and because of this, it is distressing rather than impacting. Also, despite the well-written script, a few of the characters are heavily repeated stereotypes. Fortunately, the writing counters this by drawing the viewers into the story, making them feel just as trapped as the main characters. This drama plays out dizzyingly at times, giving a feeling of facing the same challenges, fears, and hopelessness. This allows the audience to really appreciate and understand what Queen and Slim have to endure.    This authenticity of the characters is made better by a clear understanding by the entire cast of exactly who they were portraying. Standing tall among them is Turner-Smith, who is appearing in her first feature film. Her performance as Queen is exceptional, evolving from a stiff defense attorney to a more open-minded individual as she and Slim spend more time together.   Perhaps the greatest shortcoming of the film lies in its continuity issues. Many of the backgrounds, although accurate in appearance, don’t seem to match up fully with where the couple is located during their journey. Fortunately, the raw sets of backroads and byways outweigh this in most cases. They get assistance from clever cinematography and a soundtrack that carries the tale along well.   Queen and Slim, despite its failure to address that not everyone is a cookie-cutter character, does present a solid story of what could be, what has been, and what shouldn’t continue to exist. It should be entertaining for anyone who enjoys thrilling dramas, particularly since it doesn’t try to cop out with the ending.