Skip to content

Film Review: Queen & Slim (2019)

Queen and Slim (2019) is a film that is made for the black community and to highlight the issues that they still have to deal with in 2019. From a first-time feature director, Melina Matsoukas, this film stars Daniel Kaluuya with a breakthrough performance by model Jodie Turner-Smith. After going on a first date, Angela “Queen” (Smith) and Ernest “Slim” (Kaluuya) find themselves in a horrible position after a confrontation with a white cop goes wrong.

I did not know much about this film going into the cinema to see it, and I think that heightened my experience with the film. This is a story that has several twists and turns and touches on several movements and aspects of the black community, and with spoilers floating around social media about the ending, I would highly recommend being cautious and try to see this film as blind as you can. The impact is huge with this film.
What this film does well, in comparison to other films of similar subject matters in the past few years, is how mature it takes the heavy themes. Whilst there is still stereotyping of several characters and their races, this is done more subtly and in a way that I can get behind the characters and their perspectives. The situation feels gritty and real, due to how incredibly the opening sequence is done to set up the narrative. It not only feels believable, but also has an emotional kick to it to get you to side with Queen and Slim here.
If something was to be pointed out for a potential awards contention from this film, it is easily the cinematography. Director Matsoukas has previously been well-known for working on music videos, and you can see the clear comparisons of that here. The cinematography is stunning, particularly on the journey sequences that occur throughout. This is a visually stunning and bold film, and I applaud Matsoukas for taking this approach to the filmmaking.

This film cements to me that Daniel Kaluuya is one of the most interesting actors to have worked this decade. He is clearly an actor that cares about what projects he is in, whether it is to tell an interesting story or to showcase the amount of variety he has with his performance. This film is completely different to Get Out or Black Mirror tonally, but they all have a running theme of dark and important storylines with bold performances needed. Jodie Turner-Smith gives an exceptional first performance here, managing to hold herself up with Kaluuya, and I cannot wait to see where she goes next from this performance.

Whilst the opening and closing sequences are key highlights of the film, they seemed to be created with a pathway forced to follow to that definitive ending. There are moments that feel convenient within the film in terms of the journey, and other moments that I feel were weaker in terms of the narrative. There is one sequence, in particular, which tries to cut between two completely different situations. I can understand the narrative purpose of this sequence, but to me it just felt off tonally and awkward to watch, rather than creating the powerful impact it was going for.

The side characters here do not feel fleshed out at all, and there is actually only one side character that I enjoyed watching in this film. This story is truly about two people and only two people, and I am glad this film recognises that because the film is strongest in these moments. I just wish they took some time to give some care for some of the other characters and not have them feel like they are only there to help the plot continue moving, because it may have helped the pacing and tone of the film doing that.

Whilst there are some narrative beats that are a misstep here, there are just so many aspects here that I loved about this film. From the stylisation, the performances, the message and the impact that this film had on me from the opening sequence right to the closing shot, this is an easy recommendation from me and I hope you get a chance to check this one out as soon as possible to avoid being spoiled.


With a film of this subject matter, I am making it my job to use the space I have created to highlight black critics and film fans who have written about this film, as they can make commentary on stuff that I cannot provide a perspective on. Here are some of their great work:

Cinemababel: Queen & Slim and the Audacity of Black Love in a Time of Anti-Black Hostility 
Brooke Abie: [SPOILER] Let’s Talk About The Ending Of ‘Queen & Slim’: An Artful Wound With No Medicine [REVIEW]
Michael Bibbins: Queen and Slim has many great moments but sends no real message
Kolby Mac: Queen & Slim Spoiler-Free Review
P.A. Clouden: “Queen & Slim” is the Blackest Black Movie To Ever Black in Black History
Josh Parham of Next Best Picture: “Queen & Slim” Review
Cinemania World Podcast: Queen & Slim Movie Review
Mensa: Letterboxd Review of Queen & Slim
Clarkisha Kent: ‘Queen and Slim’ Trades In Black Resistance For Black Martyrdom

Please make sure to check out these incredible content creators and hear their voices loud and clear, and make sure to let me know your thoughts on Queen & Slim in the comments section down below.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: