Queen And Slim is a film that definitely feels like the sleeper hit of the year and it’s something that’s stuck with me since seeing it due to it’s symbolism, overall story and ending. I’ve kinda wrestled with doing this video as I don’t wanna be another white guy rambling on about a struggle that I don’t really know anything about so I’ve taken a lot of time researching the director and writer’s thoughts on the film in order to analyse the film with a better understanding of the certain choices that were made.
Throughout this video we’re gonna be breaking down everything that you need to know about the film and what we took the overall journey to mean.
There will be heavy spoilers here so if you haven’t had a chance to see the film yet and don’t want to know what happens then I highly suggest that you turn off now.
With that out the way I just wanna give a huge thank you for clicking this video, now let’s get into our breakdown of Queen and Slim.
Queen And Slim Plot Recap
Ok so Queen and Slim starts off simple enough and it follows two characters that find themselves thrust into a nationwide manhunt after a police stop escalates into a shooting.
The movie opens with Queen, played by Jodie Turner-Smith on a date with Slim, played by Daniel Kaluuya and it becomes clear early on that the two don’t really have a connection with one another. Queen is a defense attorney that has just learned that one of her clients has received the death penalty whereas Slim is a religious t-total man that likes to keep his head down.
Both the character’s names were deliberately chosen by the director, Melina Matsoukas, because she stated that all women in the black community are Queens and Slim is something that black people are often called in a derogatory manner.
They are worlds apart and though Slim is hopeful for more from Queen, it’s clear that she’s not that interested. When driving him Queen takes Slim’s phone and when grabbing it back he swerves in the road which grabs the attention of a patrolling officer who pulls them over and begins to search the car.
On The Run
The situation quickly escalates and it’s a scenario that we’ve seen play out numerous times on the news in which an officer kills an unarmed black person under the pretense that they were a threat. I’m sure many people watching the movie have gone through similar circumstances themselves in which the police have pulled them over for a minor incident and even though they were co-operating they’ve ended up with a gun pointed at them for doing little more than asking how long they would be there for.
Queen and Slim follows the usual narrative of this but where it differs is that when Queen tries to film the incident she is shot and in self-defense Slim manages to wrestle the policeman, getting his gun and using it on the man officer, killing him in the process.
It’s a really tense scene and it really grabs your attention early on. I actually saw Queen and Slim at something that’s known as a secret screening in which you have no idea what movie you’re going to see and having absolutely no prior knowledge of the work, this introduction really gripped me.
The two really only have two choices, hand themselves in or go on the run. It wouldn’t be much of a movie doing the former so instead they choose the latter which leads to them inadvertently causing a political movement in the country whilst they try and evade the long arm of the law. The two are really seen as heroes to the black lives matter cause and because of this, it begins to make the black community realise that enough is enough, they’re sick of being harassed and this needs to stop.
Now the film begins in Ohio and this was deliberately chosen by the creative team as it was one of the last stops on the Underground Railroad. When discussing the movie with the Oprah Magazine the writer of the film, Lena Waithe stated that:
“I’ve always seen this kind of as a reverse slave escape narrative, They’re kind of on a journey on the Underground Railroad—the modern day Underground Railroad.”
Queen states in the film that Ohio still imposes the death penalty and the 2014 shooting of Tamir Rice also happened close to the area. The car that Slim drives, a White Accord was also picked intentionally because on the street in which the murder occurred, six cars were pulled over in the space of an hour including one which was the same make and model that Slim drives.
The bar that the duo eventually makes it to for their second date is also called ‘The Underground’ and once more the movie hints that this is about African Americans escaping oppression.
It definitely has this aesthetic to it and the movie is basically a road trip that involves encountering people from all walks of life but at its core is the notion that family and community are of the utmost importance. I have seen some complaints that this film tars white policemen with the same brush but firstly these types of stops turn bad all to often and secondly we do see first hand that a Sheriff in Kentucky is willing to help the two, only turning on them after he hears about the officer that they shot.
The Underground Railroad
A white couple are also paramount in helping Queen and Slim escape and they offer the two refuge at their home during the investigation. In this scene, Queen and Slim have to hide under floorboards which were used in the Underground Railroad to smuggle people to Canada and it reminds us that history, though long gone, still plays a big part in our present.
At its core though is the black community and how they must come together in order to fight the oppression that they face and that unity is the only way to accomplish this. This film basically states that the black community must put their differences aside in order to aid one another and to me, this is exemplified in Queens estranged Uncle Earl who we learn killed her mother.
It’s revealed the Queen helped him avoid jail for the crime by becoming his defense attorney and to me this hammers home the point that this is about an overall message of kinship for an achieved enlightenment. We must forgive those that have wronged us and help where possible and even those from all walks of life share some commonality.
They change their appearance and hatch a plan to escape to Cuba. Along the way they visit the underground for their second date and meet a young boy who is the son of a mechanic that is fixing their car.
This character named Junior, says that they’ve really created a movement in the country and that he is going to go to a protest the next day.
Tragically this ends with Junior shooting a black police officer in the face and in turn being shot himself. The director stated that this highlights the dangers that expressing your beliefs can lead to and shows that even in the Black Community there are voices that may try and get you to step into self-censorship in order to keep their standing. This sort of plays into the ending of the film but the movie doesn’t say that all Black members of the police force are bad and that they are opportunities for those within the sanctions of the authorities to help their community out.
This is showcased in the police officer that lets them escape later in the film and eagle-eyed viewers may have spotted that the policeman is named Langston. This is a nod to Langston Hughes, a poet that was a huge part of the Harlem Renaissance.
A Plane To Cuba
Eventually they reach a man who says that he can lead them to a man with a plane in which they will be able to escape to Cuba. By this point, the bounty on the two combined is at half a million dollars and the two are highly sought after. The man drives the two to the tarmac and finally to the plane that will take them away. However, the police arrive and draw their weapons on the two.
A overzealous policewoman shoots Queen, killing her instantly. Slim crouches over her, devastated at the death and the police shout at him to get on the ground. However, he defiantly stands up, refusing to be silenced any further and picks up Queen.
To me this symbolizes that though the black community has faced losses and deaths, they must rise up and continue marching forward.
Slim is killed as well as the police say this is was necessary as the two were considered armed and dangerous. As we could see, Slim’s hands were carrying Queen and he wasn’t really posing a danger beyond being defiant. As with most cases the Police didn’t have any reason to shoot him but they did anyway out of fear and prejudice.
It’s a devastating moment and initially, though I was shocked by this move, I realised that it was the only real way that the film could have gone. Queen and Slim were never going to escape to a life of freedom as they are stuck in a society that will constantly put them down without reason because it’s designed to hold them back.
Queen And Slim Ending Explained
When discussing with the white female officer shot Queen without provocation, the creative team said:
It serves as a sort of commentary on the phenomenon of white feminism, which often finds Black women’s Caucasian counterparts choosing to ignore the intersectionality of equality for all. In reaction to the 2018 murder of 18-year-old Nia Wilson, Harper’s Bazaar defined it as “the type of behavior that rests under the guise of feminism only as long as it is comfortable, only as long as it is personally rewarding, only as long as it keeps ‘on brand.'”
To put it simply, a woman shooting a fellow female served as an example of the betrayal of sisterhood and unity that puts so many people in our culture in harm’s way.
Queen and Slim have a funeral which hundreds attend and the two are made into Martyrs unifying people around their cause. However, we also learn that the person that sold them out was the one that drove them to the tarmac and this holds a lot of weight about how separation and greed will often cause the community to collapse.
When discussing this brutal twist the director said:
“We wanted it to be complicated. We wanted it to show how we’re socialized. What the effects of racism do to our community, Like the Black man who sells them out, he’s a victim of capitalism… In that moment you’re not thinking of values, you’re just thinking of ‘How am I gonna eat?’ And that’s what that man is thinking of in that moment. He’s thinking of himself as an individual and has sold out the community in order for his own individual growth, and that’s all of us. We have to deal with that in or community. How do we do that? How do we support each other? How do we unify?”
It’s a really poignant moment that reminds us that short term and material goals overall take away from the broader scope of things and progression in the long term. I might be being a snob but just looking at the character you can see he was solely focused on the short term as he lived in a trailer yet still put his money towards grills and souping up his car. It’s this image of success that he has fallen victim to and rather than seeing his community be successful and make a stand, he is focused solely on the success of himself.
He clearly has helped people in the past due to his reputation for doing so but I guess half a million dollars was just too much to turn down.
Queen And Slim Review
The film shows how close people have often come to getting away and moving onto a new way of life with a more positive meaning but how one selfish person can bring it all down and in the end we must recognize the failings of the character who sold them out and make sure that we do not repeat these actions ourselves.
It’s an awesome way to close the film and Queen and Slim is one of the most engaging movies that I’ve watched in a long time. This has stuck with me long after seeing it and it’s an incredible way to close out the year.
I massively recommend that if you haven’t already seen it then you go and check it out as this is a film that drives discussion and deserves to have more attention.
In the end, Queen and Slim is brilliant and it gets a…
Now obviously I’d love to hear your thoughts on the film and what you took from the ending.