I saw a trailer for Queen & Slim last year, thought to myself, “wow that looks amazing”, and then never heard about it again. That is, until yesterday when my boyfriend and I rented it from a RedBox on a whim. The movie had been playing for mere minutes when my jaw dropped. Queen & Slim is incredibly powerful and deeply engaging. It is almost immediately apparent how well done this story is.
Queen & Slim is the story of a young black man and woman who go out on a first date. On their way home, they are pulled over by a white police officer for a minor traffic violation. The situation quickly escalates, and the couple shoots the officer in self-defense. Over the course of the rest of the film, they find themselves on the run, as a video of the incident goes viral.
Not only is this movie deeply moving, incredibly heartbreaking, well-acted, and well-directed, it’s also painfully topical right now. It’s impossible to sit and watch this film today without thinking of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and all of the other victims of police brutality in this country.
What Makes This Movie Amazing
This movie is branded as a love story, and that’s exactly what it is. We forget with the abundance of bubbly whitewashed romantic comedies out there that love doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Love doesn’t exist out of the context of the world around us. Love doesn’t exist on its own, it survives in a world also filled with race, racism, fear, hope, hate, family, and greed. Queen & Slim embodies that idea, that love can exist amidst racism, trauma, and pain. It’s a poignant exploration of humanity, trauma, love, and loss amidst a cultural framework.
This movie made me deeply uncomfortable…which is a good thing. It made me examine my own privilege. My boyfriend and I discussed at length what we would do in this situation before it hit me that he and I will never be in this situation. Because of the color of our skin, we will never know this level of fear. We will never have to face the choices that this couple had to face. Our love doesn’t have to coexist with this kind of fear. And no one else ever should have to live in a world where these horrors are possible. Yes, this movie is fiction, but part of the reason it will bring you to tears is that it’s not unrealistic. These things happen all the time. The film is a call to action.
Why Didn’t This Movie Get Anywhere Near Enough Attention
Queen & Slim is an Academy Award quality movie. So why didn’t it receive anywhere near enough attention? We can all take a wild guess.
The film wasn’t nominated for any Golden Globes or any Oscars. Despite glowing reviews from both audiences and critics, Queen & Slim was very casually brushed aside and forgotten, despite how truly remarkable it is.
This could, in theory, be because 2019 was a really good year for movies. The Academy Award for Best Picture nominees this year were overall really amazing, mostly. However, let’s quickly compare Queen & Slim to another blockbuster film from this year, Joker. Joker is a film about a deranged white man who kills a whole bunch of people, based on the comic book villain. Joaquin Phoenix’s performance as the titular character was undoubtedly fantastic. However, the movie itself was kind of lackluster and seemingly tries to garner sympathy for a white male monster.
Queen & Slim is also a violent movie, but it’s a violent movie about a Black shooter instead of a white one. Its main characters are much easier to root for and sympathize with, and yet everyone wants to fawn all over the Joker instead. It’s suspicious, to say the least.
Injustice in Entertainment
Maybe this movie slipped through the cracks because the main characters shoot a police officer in the first ten minutes of the movie. Or it could be because the movie explores and celebrates Black people, Black power, and Black culture. Maybe it’s because the director was a woman. It’s probably all three, but whatever the reason, Queen & Slim didn’t get anywhere near the attention it deserved, and that’s an injustice in and of itself.
If there’s a comparison that sums up #OscarsSoWhite and #OscarsSoMale better than this one, I can’t think of it. If you haven’t seen Queen & Slim yet, I highly recommend you do so.