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Film / Queen & Slim

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Queen & Slim is a 2019 romantic drama thriller from director Melina Matsoukas and writer Lena Waithe. It stars Jodie Turner-Smith and Daniel Kaluuya as the titular couple, and also features Bokeem Woodbine, Flea, and Chloë Sevigny.

A couple goes on a first date and finds that they have completely opposite personalities. On their ride home, they are pulled over by an abrasive cop, leading to them shooting him in self-defense. Now forced to go on the run after being labeled cop killers, the pair come across a number of supporters willing to hide them while also growing closer with one another.

This film provides examples of:

  • Asshole Victim: Officer Reed already wasn't gonna have tears shed for him after Slim kills him in self-defense, but his status as this is cemented when Queen and Slim are told that Reed killed an unarmed black man years earlier (in front of the man's child, no less).
  • Auto Erotica: Queen and Slim have sex in their car, juxtaposed with a "Black Lives Matter" protest rally.
  • Cavalry Betrayal: The last person Queen and Slim are sent to for help on their escape turns them in to the police for the bounty.
  • Cop Killer Manhunt: The protagonists are chased across several states after Slim kills a cop who shot Queen in self-defense, with police everywhere mobilizing to catch them.
  • Crime of Self-Defense: Slim only shot the officer in self-defense during the heat of the moment. However, he and Queen both know there's no chance of mercy for them as he was a police officer. Both are killed by the cops at the end.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Queen, appropriately, toward Slim over the course of their journey.
  • Downer Ending: Queen and Slim are gunned down by police moments before they can make their escape, and they continue to spin the narrative to make them seem like armed and dangerous criminals. The one upside is that the two are viewed as martyrs from the people in their community, and their legacies will be carried on.
  • From Bad to Worse: The entire plot happens because of one bad turn after another that puts them deeper on their run from the law.
  • Heroic BSoD: Slim understandably doesn't take it well when Queen is shot and killed by a cop toward the end of the film. This leads directly to his Suicide by Cop.
  • Hope Spot: Near the end of the movie, Queen and Slim finally get to the promised plane that was supposed to fly them to Cuba. Then a swarm of police cars find them before they can get on.
  • Killed Offscreen: Junior is said to have been shot and killed after he killed a cop on the streets.
  • Minority Police Officer:
    • The Kentucky sheriff whom Queen and Slim take captive is played by Latino actor Benito Martinez. He claims to believe they had killed the Ohio cop in self-defense, saying a lot of his colleagues cross the line.
    • A black riot cop tries to talk Junior (a black teenager) into leaving when the protest is being broked up violently by police. Junior shoots him dead and is then Killed Offscreen by the other cops.
    • Queen and Slim are caught by a black patrol officer while stealing a car to flee. He lets them leave, after having earlier been shown as having friction with a white fellow officer.
  • No Name Given: The main duo are never referred to by their names, nor as "Queen" or "Slim" until the end when a reporter identifies them as Angela Johnson and Ernest Hines.
  • Police Brutality: What kicks the plot off is Queen being shot in the leg by a Rabid Cop for just objecting to his hassling Slim for no reason. Slim then kills him in self-defense. It turns out that the cop also had shot an unarmed black man prior to the events of the film. Queen and Slim are also killed by the cops at the end when neither is posing any threat but simply don't orders.
  • Rabid Cop: The plot kicks off from a highly aggressive and hostile police officer named Reed. He pulls a gun on Slim and shoots Queen in the leg with no provocation past valid protests to his unjustified, invasive searching after already pulling them over under dubious circumstances. It's later revealed that he had killed an unarmed black man before.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: The conflict of the plot is a conscious examination of the black civil rights movement in recent years that developed in response to police brutality cases against unarmed black civilians. It examines how an entirely spontaneous instance of the latter can spiral into the former and how it can look to the victims caught in the middle.
  • Road Trip Plot: Much of the story has them travelling across the US in several different cars.
  • Suicide by Cop: After one cop shoots and kills Queen/Angela, Slim/Ernest picks up her body and walks toward the other cops, despite them having their guns drawn on him and telling him they'll shoot if he gets any closer. They do after he keeps walking, with Slim being shot dead.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not Political?: In-universe black civilians rally around Queen and Slim presuming that killing Officer Reed was a pre-planned protest of some kind instead of an unforeseen circumstance.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Uncle Earl is a pimp and has no issue smacking his girls.
  • You Owe Me: Queen pulls this on her Uncle Earl so he can shelter her and Slim temporarily. The reason being that Earl was Queen’s first client after she passed the bar, and she got him out of jail for killing her mother since she knew it was an accident.