Queen & Slim: The Love Letter, The Protest Piece, The Message

Queen & Slim: The Love Letter, The Protest Piece, The Message

Matsoukas | Universal Pictures

Matsoukas | Universal Pictures

By Isabella Kazanecki

One afternoon during some instagram digging, I came across a portrait of a waitress dressed in pink with thick gold earrings and a regal disposition that completely hypnotized me.  The photo, among others, was taken by Lelanie Foster for an upcoming Universal Pictures film, Queen & Slim. Directed by two-time GrammyⓇ winner Melina Matsoukas, with a screenplay by EmmyⓇ award winning Lena Waithe, Queen & Slim is set to be released November 27th.  It will also open the AFI Film Festival on November 14th in Los Angeles, which will be the world premier.  What’s more, Blood Orange’s Devonté Hynes has written the score. The film has been described as a love letter and a protest.  It follows Queen (Jodie Turner-Smith) and Slim’s (Daniel Kaluuya) unlikely love story at the same time that it challenges the pervasive racism and violence in America.  It is clear that the film is a masterful example of revolutionary visual storytelling.

Waitress, 2019 © Lelanie Foster/Universal Pictures

Waitress, 2019 © Lelanie Foster/Universal Pictures

The unlikely pair is forever entwined after Slim accidentally kills a white, male police officer with reciprocal intentions in exchange for a minor traffic violation and a complaint about standing out in the cold.  Despite, Queen, a licensed attorney, peacefully intervening, the situation escalates and the officer attacks. Although they didn’t hit it off on their first date, courtesy of Tinder, the two are bound to each other on a dreamy odyssey across the country, running from their fate that they know will include justice for the police officer without consideration of Slim’s right to self defense.  Matsoukas has explained that the film is a way of honoring “black people who have lost their lives to police brutality.” It confronts the realities of the human lives affected by the continuous lack of attention to police brutality as well as omnipresent discrimination.  

SLIM, 2019 © Lelanie Foster/Universal Pictures

SLIM, 2019 © Lelanie Foster/Universal Pictures

QUEEN, 2019 © Lelanie Foster/Universal Pictures

QUEEN, 2019 © Lelanie Foster/Universal Pictures

Many have dubbed Queen and Slim the black Bonnie and Clyde⁠—including a character in the movie⁠—but after a closer look, we see that they’re more than that.  The director has made it clear that the film celebrates black love and it’s a common trope to compare such stories to white archetypes.  This is Queen and Slim’s story. Take it as it is. Another point the director has made in interviews is that the main characters’ nicknames are common in the black community therefore claiming the intention for Queen and Slim to stand for “all of us,” or “all different shades of black.” Like all good stories, Queen & Slim takes a grander social movement and focuses in on a handful of people in order to speak to the masses.

Untitled, 2019 © Lelanie Foster/Universal Pictures

Untitled, 2019 © Lelanie Foster/Universal Pictures

As Queen and Slim become a symbol of the pain experienced throughout America whether they asked to be or not, they forge a bond that wouldn’t have come out of their casual diner date.  Did they escape their fate or conquer it? In a chilling moment at the end of the trailer, Queen asks Slim, “Can I be your legacy?” to which Slim answers, “You already are.” The stellar cinematography, styling, and music captivated me and the story shook me down. Queen & Slim provokes safety and justice in America, capital punishment, the meaning of becoming a symbol, and modern love but they’re just getting started. I can already tell this film will be Matsoukas and Waithe’s legacy.

Check out the the latest trailer released today with a closer, updated look at what’s to come: https://www.queenandslim.com/?gclid=CJOY1anQy-QCFdrBswodRukPew And don’t miss the full release this Thanksgiving.



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