As I was concerned about in the FIRST LOOK before seeing…
Queen & Slim ⭐️⭐️½
…has predictably zero to do with Bonnie and Clyde — either the real couple, or the excellent movie starring Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, and yet there continue to be people comparing this movie to that.
Its like comparing Titantic to The Poseidon Adventure. Sure, they are both ships that sank, but the former hit an iceberg and the latter flipped over in a tidal wave.
Why is this illogical comparison being made? Blame the uncle of one of the characters for exclaiming that in the trailer.
If you haven’t seen the movie yet, then you should come back to this discussion post after you’ve seen, because there are SPOILERS that follow.
… you have been warned … SPOILERS AHEAD ….
So, let’s start with the trailer, again:
“Cop killers, cop killers!” — you hear that in the background of the trailer. There was an accidental shooting of one cop, that’s it. The other police encounter before the ending there isn’t even any violence toward the policeman.
Bogus Bonnie & Clyde Comparison
This is weak at best related to Bonnie and Clyde, who hated the police and were more than happy to kill them. Anyway, this is far and away not my only criticism of the film, but this one is just annoying because it’s something said by a character comparing them to two 1930s-era criminals and thugs when the only meaningful comparison is that they were on the run from law enforcement. The ending is basically the same. That’s it. That’s the only reference that makes any sense whatsoever. All other references are completely irrelevant and illogical.
Poor Romantic Chemistry
The main characters have terrible romantic chemistry and yet we’re supposed to believe they become romantically involved? No way. I wasn’t buying anything happening ever between these two. Is it cool that they are trying to create a romance between the two, yes? But it doesn’t work because the female character is largely unlikable and Ernest is too gullible. He just lets her push him around and that’s what love is about? No.
Bonnie and Clyde actually did have strong love for each other. There was deep, deep romance between these two. They had all kinds of chemistry. Bonnie broke Clyde out of jail.
What does Angela ever do in this movie for Ernest? He does things for her more out of necessity it seems. Like when he snaps her dislocated shoulder back in place. Ernest is the good guy and he deserved a nicer woman than Angela. I was rooting for him to walk away and go back to his parents and Angela, well, she could be in the death car with Bonnie & Clyde.
Angela’s character is a cold defense lawyer and her only reason for going on a date with Ernest is because she lost a case the same day and “didn’t want to be alone.”
Yeah, that’s a real good motivator for a guy to even like you, must less want to fall in love with you in the span of an hour or so.
The love scene wasn’t energetic or romantic. Felt like Ernest was just coldly banging Angela and/or she wanted it that way. No love making, just fairly meaningless sex which they weren’t even supposed to have on the first date according to Angela’s own words.
Also, Angela is way too intense with the police officer. Talking to him like she almost wants to provoke the copy to treat them more harshly.
The Policemen’s Actions During the Traffic Stop are Unacceptable
Let me make this clear, the way the policeman handled the traffic stop with our two main characters was unprofessional and wrong. He had an aggressive attitude toward the couple from the start. I was thinking the copy was racist and didn’t need Angela’s prodding to make his actions seem even remotely justified. She would have appeared more sympathetic if she shut her mouth.
That said, not all cops are like this jerk.
There are a lot of great police officers doing a job that is often times very difficult to do to everybody’s satisfaction, but this policeman behaving as he did deserved not to be out in the field.
The trailer leaves out several lines of Angela’s dialogue that seem to be provoking the officer and that dialogue was unnecessary and extraneous. Unless it was to make us like Angela less and somewhat forgive the police officer.
Too Many Come and Go Side Characters
Lost count of how many supporting actors there were in this film. It’s a bunch and none of their stories really have any arc or significance except for the mechanic’s son (see next commentary). The couple that hides them out? Nope. The final guy who calls in the plane only to turn on them for reward money?
Sketchy Camerawork in Spots
A couple jarring scenes that were not monologue have the camera on Angela and Ernest but their mouths aren’t moving. I like to see actors/actresses speaking the words, not having their voices with a camera on them and their mouths shut. What is that? Also there was at least one scene that was out of focus in the beginning.
This might have been stylistic and intentional, but it came off as amateurish and sloppy to me.
The Mechanic’s Son Overreacted, Just Like Others – Realistic, Yes
What was the plot surrounding the mechanic’s son supposed to do? Why? Was that just there so there could be a Black Lives Matter march and the boy to overact and shoot another black person? Black on black gun violence? You’d think the boy would shoot a white cop rather than a very respectful black officer, yes/no? Instead he shoots someone in his own race. I didn’t understand what was supposed to be learned from this character except that Queen & Slim had inspired this young boy somehow to seek violence against all police officers, regardless of race. Equality of sorts, I suppose, but it made no sense to me?
As for the Black Lives Matter marching. I wish that had been expanded upon. Perhaps the preparation of the march could have been cutaway from some of the slower scenes between Queen & Slim? This would have packed a more dramatic punch when the mechanic’s son pulls out that gun.
I was more interested in this side story than the unbelievable romance relationship between Queen & Slim, but we get these side characters and then they just disappear in the story never to be heard from again.
It seems they were put there to show that Queen & Slim had caused a movement to develop and they had support from others.
One side character that I did like was the policeman who lets them pass through the roadblock after discovering them in the garage. Thought that was a very telling scene. That was also one of the more dramatic scenes in the movie to me.
I didn’t recommend seeing this film in the theaters in my review. I think it could be worth seeing on streaming, if you would like to wait. There are many better, IMHO, movies showing right now. Then again, if you have an unlimited pass to see movies like we are paying for through Regal, then you’ll see it anyway (why not?). If you have a choice between Ford v Ferrari, Knives Out, Frozen II or my personal favorite Doctor Sleep and this? See any of those instead first.
Reviews by Others
Let’s see, so far, what other moviegoers think of Queen & Slim.
Did I miss your review? Use the comments to tell me about your movie-related/review blog and I’ll follow. I like following movie-related blogs. Yes, even those who disagree with my reviews and vice versa.
- tvjeremy (9/10): ” Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie Turner-Smith are a force to be reckoned with. The two actors created magic in every scene. Throughout the narrative the duo grow on each other in an organic way. It is playful, emotional, and poetic. The cinematography is highly stylized like a painting from the Renaissance era.”
- A Space for Me: “What I got was not only beauty but a feeling of my existence being justified. I left the theater in tears but my heart felt lighter.”
- Brennen Jones / The Urban Twist: “…much more interested in myth-making than storytelling, and viewers who don’t care that much about the latter will definitely buy into the former.”
- Sistas on the sofa: “Queen and Slim is a perfect depiction of what it is like to be black in today’s world. The movie displayed a perfect illustration of our emotions: anger, worry, freedom, humor, and most importantly how we love.”
- (ed: not a review, but interesting): Buzzmaster blogs about Snoop Dog and other celebrities buying out theater showings to support the film.
- A.R Shaw: “…will cause varying reactions from those who will vehemently oppose or agree with the underlying message of the film’s ending. Should Black America be given hope for the future, or is the darkness of an inescapable reality too grave to hide?”
- Bill’s Media Commentary: “…the film is much more, a demonstration of how racial identity politics and law enforcement have collided into almost a critical mass, all going back perhaps to Ferguson and Baltimore.”
- Jordan Parker (4.5/5): “With the crackerjack script, a formidable performance from Oscar nominee Daniel Kaluuya, and a turn from newcomer Jodie Turner-Smith that’s jaw-dropping, this is one of the best of the year.”
- Stream to Big Screen: “…a different type of romantic dramedy, rivals and, I believe ultimately, will be associated with the likes of the Love and Basketball, Love Jones, and If Beale Street Could Talk. The performances in the movie and the conversation piece this movie will be makes it worth every dollar in the movie theater.”
- Matt Brunson / FILM FRENZY (3/4): ” Some of the film’s subplots and supporting characterizations feel underdeveloped … but as a conversation starter among discerning types, as a palate cleanser from the injustices of the real world, and simply as a worthwhile motion picture, Queen & Slim takes a familiar road and invests it with newfound fury.”
Not Recommended (or on the fence/unclear)
- Jack Blackwell (3/5): “…a fascinating experiment and often a visual treat, but simply doesn’t put in the ground work to reach the ‘classic’ status it’s clearly aiming for.”
- Tamale Reviews (6/12): “The premise is inspired and relevant, yet “Queen & Slim’s” leading characters’ connection, romantic or otherwise, feels inauthentic.”
- Dana Simone / Runpee (Grade: C): “Considering that we already know the storyline, the movie progressed a little too slowly for me.”
- Keith Loves Movies: “The film was beautifully shot in a unique style thanks to Matsoukas’ experience directing music videos but in the end, the best part of Queen and Slim undoubtedly was the excellent nuanced performances from Kaluuya and Turner-Smith as the damaged Ernest and Angela (a.k.a. Queen and Slim) respectively. “
- Society Reviews (1/5): ” Other reviewers may wish to walk on eggshells trying to give a pass for the glaring issues in storytelling like it’s jarring tone from scene to scene and the film’s underdeveloped characters but those people are just putting frosting on a burnt cake in hopes that audiences don’t miss the crusty taste of a lecture. However, trying to excuse these poorly executed fantasy disguised as reality movies and the people behind them is exactly how Hollywood gets away with moving up the ladder while losing every game in the process aka failing upwards. “
Let’s discuss Queen & Slim. Do you agree/disagree with my criticism? What did you like and dislike, if anything, about the film?
11 thoughts on “13+ Queen and Slim Reviews – Almost No Relation To Bonnie and Clyde and Other Critical Discussion”
This movie is much bigger than the points you address. It’s about viewing life through the lens of individuals who do not hold any type of privilege. From understanding Angela’s position as a black woman who has experienced things that many non minorities can ever see. The cop from the beginning is what many blacks have encountered at some point of our lives. Her willingness to step out of the car to protect her date shows what many non minorities will never ever understand.
Her name (did you get the symbolism behind her name?) … Angela Davis ….? I think if you rewatch with an open mind and while no one will ever understand what it means to be black I’m America if they are not, this might be a start to
looking at even the historical context.
It was brilliant…. it began in Ohio. Are you aware of racial issues that begin there? They drive down south? Are you aware of the historical context of this?
She is a black lawyer (I relate because so am I) and at the beginning she shares something that is beyond powerful….
I have so much more to say, but maybe take a moment to review this because while you are correct about the non existing comparison, which I agree, the movie is much bigger than that and it always seems non minorities can never be open minded to see that we still live in a racist world…
Thank you for stopping by and commenting. This is exactly the type of film discussion and criticism I’m interested in exploring. I see film as a way to be enlightened about the world around us and I do like exploring symbolism in films. I’ll admit, however, that it is difficult for me to explore symbolism in films when I didn’t like the story as presented. More on that in a bit, let me address specific quotes from your first comment.
“From understanding Angela’s position as a black woman who has experienced things that many non minorities can ever see”
I’m not a black woman, so I can’t understand what it’s like to be a black woman and therefore my criticism about the film are invalid, is that your point? Because I’m not a black woman I cannot review this film? Only black women (lawyers like Angela?) can review this film? Is that what you’re saying? More explanation needed here. No, I don’t understand what you’re saying with this comment.
‘The cop from the beginning is what many blacks have encountered at some point of our lives. Her willingness to step out of the car to protect her date shows what many non minorities will never ever understand.”
I do realize there are bad, racist cops in the world, and it saddens me. Please re-read the subsection that is bolded: The Policemen’s Actions During the Traffic Stop are Unacceptable. Angela’s actions and attitude were also unacceptable. This has nothing to do with “non-minorities will never ever understand” as this, in itself, can be viewed as a racist statement (although I’m hopeful you didn’t intend it as such). There is wrong and right behavior for human beings — all human beings. Let’s stick to evaluating actions whether they are wrong or right for law abiding citizens. I do understand the perspective that policemen who racially profile for traffic stops is a frustrating activity that people who aren’t a minority would not be as receptive to understanding. That’s a fair point you made.
“Her name (did you get the symbolism behind her name?) … Angela Davis ….? I think if you rewatch with an open mind and while no one will ever understand what it means to be black I’m America if they are not, this might be a start to looking at even the historical context. It was brilliant”
No, thank you, I didn’t understand the symbolism behind her name, Angela Davis. As I said in the review, I didn’t even catch either character’s names until the end, which I thought was a bit odd. Maybe if this was an intentional plant, it should have been a little more obvious? I just Googled the name, Angela Davis: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angela_Davis
Thank you for pointing out that Angela Davis is, in fact, a political activist. So, you’re saying that Queen is really Angela Davis, a political activist? Or is supposed to be a character based on this real person, Angela Davis? How on earth would most viewers even know this by what’s presented? Why didn’t the uncle say, “So you’re like Angela Davis, the political activist?” instead of saying, “if it isn’t the black Bonnie and Clyde”? That would have been a better tie-in, don’t you think?
I think the rest of your commentary boils down to … because I’m a “non minority” I cannot understand the film. That isn’t the type of film criticism I’m interested in here. Let’s not make this personal. You don’t know me and I don’t know you. Congratulations on passing the bar exam and being a lawyer.
Let’s stick to addressing the specific things I am criticizing. Counterpoint them if you like, please do (Angela Davis is a good counterpoint, which I liked), but just telling me in a blanket statement that I can’t understand without any sort of explanation just invalidates anything else you’re trying to say in any form of debate context.
“This movie is much bigger than the points you address.”
A movie has to be good first, before it can be symbolic to the viewer. This movie, in my opinion, is not good so it must first pass on the basis of the story, not the symbolism. By contrast, I invite you to read my Harriet review: https://moviereviewsbyus.com/2019/11/06/21-harriet-reviews-a-real-superhero-in-a-horrible-time-and-place-in-american-history/
The story of Harriet opened my eyes to subjects outside of the movie, but it first had to be a movie that I enjoyed as a story. I didn’t have this same feeling about QUEEN & SLIM. If the movie had been better like HARRIET (which is currently one of my top 5 films of 2019): https://letterboxd.com/tjsnk/list/2019-favorite-movies-since-august-12-2019/
It is #5 behind Eddie Murphy’s DOLEMITE (#4).
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thanks for responding. The entire movie is symbolic of many things that Blacks encounter. It began in Ohio. Are you aware of Tamir Rice? It continues in Kentucky. Are you are of the racism that continues in Kentucky?
And yes I am saying that because you and many who watch the movie are not Black, you cannot understand. The #BlackLivesMatter protest.
And even her staying in the car to question the cop. I’ve had an identical situation and believe it or not there are many racist cops that we typically turn out head to seeing…
But at any rate,
I think I believe that if you were familiar with the history of Blacks, this might help to understand and maybe not like the movie, but be able to see it from an objective view.
Please note I’m not debating or trying to get you to see anything, I was just sharing a comment on your page based off of the conversation my son and even his dad and I just had after I read your review.
I just wonder if white people took the time to truly be objective, openminded, and see life outside of their eyes would movies and even true situations be better to them? If whites took the time to research things or people or better yet know who such icons are, would this change their perspectives? Angela Davis is not who the young girl is, however the name is symbolic. They did elect to keep names hidden until the end because as blacks we are not valued until we are dead; Jordan Davis, Travoyn Martin, Eric Gardner, and so many more whose names were never known until they were dead. Even the white woman shooting Queen. The name Queen is also symbolic of black women being reminded that they are queens and not just “nobodies” (I realize what I wrote too lol). Black women have always been so low
on totem pole and this has caused many to fail to believe in themselves. Something such as having black women around to show that we can accomplish, to having black baby dolls (baby doll test) to show us the beauty we possess. So just wondering if a White person could view this from the eyes of an open minded individual and if so would this showcase just how brilliant this movie is…. it is extremely surface level but it captures so much of our history that Whites typically don’t get… and my personal thoughts and some from white friends is because they don’t have to.. white privilege and wby should they have to attempt to understand our history, but students have to learn about mainstream history…
The same that we have to learn about white greatness, whites should know about Angela Davis and even those crazy things we read in Harriet Washington’s book medical
My son says “I can see it from his perspective, but that’s not the point of the movie;” therefore the criticism becomes null and void.
But thank you sir! I appreciate your comment and I will read the other review.
I think you read my blog and I think Harriet was a good movie but I’m just still saddened that I’m 2019 people are learning things that we should know to help us grow and become better!
Sorry for the multi-day delay in replying. I wanted some more time to reflect awhile before replying.
There are a couple of important points to address:
1. IMPORTANT: Movies need to stand first on the merit of the story as presented.
This is the way I feel most moviegoers evaluate movies, myself definitely included. I don’t process the movie based on allegory or symbolism *first*, I do that as a secondary and bonus of the movie experience. If I don’t like the movie, then it’s difficult, maybe even possible in some cases, to be all that excited about the agenda, message, symbolism, etc.
Queen & Slim could very well be an allegory, as you indicate, but the average moviegoer doesn’t care, nor really should they, if the movie doesn’t stand on it’s own as a story. I’m criticizing the story first and foremost. I can’t be expected to walk into a theater and understand all kinds of history and symbolism and backstory that have nothing to do with what is being presented as a “first date gone bad with the cops” story. Hopefully, that makes sense?
I addressed some very specific concerns with the movie story as presented. EXAMPLE. the lack of logical romantic chemistry. There were basically nothing working between them on screen. If anything Angela’s character was rude and dismissive on her first date. I gave a specific example of how she told Ernest she was only there because she “lost a case.” She bosses him around and he seems to want to do the right thing, but she’s bossing him around and telling him not to.
Now, this is an area where maybe it makes perfect logical sense for a minority that is being frequently stopped and mistreated by police to react. But if that’s true, why wasn’t Ernest reacting the same way? He’s the same minority, it doesn’t make any sense
2. I was interested in having more Black Lives Matter in the story. See my comments in the critique above.
This was a missed opportunity to get into some of what you have shared in the comments. That’s on those responsible for the creative vision of the film: director, screenwriter, etc.
The date gone bad story was boring in parts to me, because I wasn’t buying the romantic chemistry between the two characters. I was more interested in the Black Lives Matter march. Why did they march? What did the viral video do that caused those to assemble and why? That part of the march preparation seems to have been left out of the movie, when it could have provided viewers with more of the things you got into.
Why couldn’t the movie have cut back and forth between the two stories? Told the viewer more about the march, why they were rising up, what it was all about? Instead, if the filmmakers are just leaving this up to the viewer, regardless of the viewer’s race, this just seems illogical to me. Wouldn’t it have been better to provide this storyline in the movie? I’m puzzled completely why this was left out?
I don’t need to be spoonfed plot points, but the movie as presented seem to rely too much on backstory and symbolism and agendas which were not actually in the film. I don’t think this is fair to the viewer, do you? If you are making a movie that only a certain demographic can come in and enjoy, that’s going to be very controversial, but at least those that aren’ t in that demographic will be able to understand what’s going on.
3. Once those points are understood, it makes it much easier for me to answer the other questions you asked above.
Most of what you asked about I have limited knowledge about. This gets more personal, but i’ll share a brief snapshot of my background Our middle son was in the infantry and graduated from Fort Benning in Georgia. So, the one and only time I have been to the south was for his graduation. Loved the country down there and while I was there, I insisted upon trying out the southern cuisine. Was all very good. I like fried foods, and we went to this horse racing track and had a buffet with fried frog and catfish. Honestly, it was some of the best food I’ve ever eaten. I asked for Tabasco sauce (I’m a huge fan of Tabasco sauce – someday I’d like to go to Avery Island in Louisiana and see where it is made) at a restaurant and they brought me peppers lol. Thought that was cool.
Anyway, I’ve never traveled east of Atlanta. Not to New York, or Maine or Florida, nowhere over there. So my life experience in the 50+ years I’ve been on earth has mostly been the central to western side of the United States. I know a ton about the history in/around where I’ve lived and traveled. I’m much less informed outside of those geographic areas. I’m sure I can tell you all kinds of historical happenings in the Pacific Northwest that you haven’t heard about or have limited knowledge in that I have a great deal of knowledge about.
So, when you ask about Kentucky? I know very little about Kentucky and the history there. I’ve passed through and visited there a grand total of one time there in my life.
History class for me was in high school a long time ago. Didn’t go to college and my area of extra studies has been in the technology sector. I can tell you a ton about programming-related projects. Again, different area of interest.
None of this is to say that I’m not interested in learning more about and researching these topics, but I don’t feel that this should be required for me to do in order to watch, understand and review an entertainment film. This wasn’t supposed to be a film that required extensive historical knowledge. I would have expected HARRIET might be more like that type of film, but again, I didn’t have any trouble following that film.
Take the movie SCHINDLER”S LIST. I didn’t know the detail about the massive Jewish persecution (yes, I knew about Auschiwitz and the death camps and Hitler’s reign) and almost nothing about Oscar Schindler before seeing that movie, but the movie educated and entertained me (in a very painful way) to how these people were mistreated horribly during WWII.
I’m not saying that Queen & Slim needed to be a film like that, but from your comments it seems there is so much required backstory that an average moviegoer that isn’t black is going to have a very difficult time connecting the dots as you have.
I would argue that this doesn’t make me somehow less objective toward liking this type of film, it’s unfortunate that the film was limited in its audience and demographic when it didn’t need to be is my point. If the agenda/goal of the film was to spread a greater message, it ultimately failed for me and probably others like me who saw it first as a mediocre film and, thus, were dissuaded from persuading the message beyond.
But then I’m not the average moviegoer, since I have a blog and discuss and critique movies, so I did go beyond the film I didn’t care that much for and am trying to learn more about the agenda, symbolism, messages, etc.
The movis is doing OK at the box office, so people are seeing it. Maybe others will get more out of the movie than I did. I’m not close-minded to watching it again when it comes around the streaming circuit and trying to apply some new learned historical information based on your commentary and from others who might weigh here or elsewhere.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thank you for you comment and taking the time to respond. I appreciate the feedback.
FYI… I’ll answer your questions also. 😊
Oh!! And no I’m not saying that you can review the film. You are definitely able to review anything. Our question just centered around perspective.
I shared your review with my 16 year old son. He has grown up in very diverse settings but ironically his mom is a lawyer and his dad is a cop. His mom (that’s still me) is also an educator and he was once a student in my high school classroom (I went back to teach high school). His dad and I are divorced and have been most of his life. His dad has been a cop all of his life. I share the above because I asked him after sharing what you wrote this: what if a white man looked through an objective lens to attempt to see the world as a black man with both educated and blue collar parents. Do you think if he did this and centered on other things, the reviews of movies that Black and Browns relate to because it’s still current would read differently?
When I conduct professional
Development I dread my main topic.. racism because I wish we could do away with this, but as I read your review I wonder if you go back and watch it after remembering the racial issues with blacks and cops and even just sixty years ago when my family members were some of the first to integrate a school. The apprehensiveness about trusting is something that many black and browns have to deal with all of the time. Even if she kept her mouth closed he still
would have done something because he is deemed as a bad cop. We see this all too often. The fact that the cop made him allow him to search and showed his white masculinity powers are things I wonder if you or any other whites can see? Please note because written words cannot always detect a tone… I’m just curious… I find your blog to be what I expect from the majority and I’m just curious if this will ever change.
My sons dad had to share with him what to do if he were ever to be pulled over. And sadly I’m still a bit scared because he is Type 1 and a black male. The former scares me because of many hypotheticals pertaining to the behaviors of a T1D even with pretty routine blood sugars.
I welcome feedback via my email too so I will not take up too much of comment if you prefer: firstname.lastname@example.org