The descriptor “visionary” is thrown around a lot these days for film directors, and it’s frequently a little bit of a reach. However for filmmaker Melina Matsoukas, the veteran music video director behind numerous of Rihanna and also Lady Gaga’s most memorable clips and also Beyoncé’s “Formation” and “Lemonade,” “visionary” appears the just word apt sufficient to describe her searing directorial debut, the unique and also unabashed “Queen & Slim.” it’s a film the comes roaring out of the gate, Matsoukas firmly planting her flag as a filmmaker v audacity and originality.
You are watching: Modern day bonnie and clyde movie
“Queen & Slim” is the story that a very first date the goes native bad, to worse, come horrific, come something akin come fantasy, to tragic transcendence. We satisfy our young couple (Daniel Kaluuya and also Jodie Turner-Smith), who remain nameless until the end of the film, throughout an azer Tinder dinner in snowy Ohio. Lock an ill-matched pair. She an uptight career woman, a windy defender v a caseload the weighs heavy; he’s a warm and friendly family-oriented guy. It shows up the night will end in gentle disappointment until an all-too popular event changes the course of their resides forever: castle pulled end by an aggressive white cop (Sturgill Simpson). In the following escalation, the cop is killed; the pair goes on the run.
“Queen & Slim” is a modern “Bonnie and also Clyde” tale rooted in the urgent sociopolitical problems of the day: police brutality, systemic racism, a palpable sense of anger in ~ the injustice that guarantees to balloon over. Along with screenwriter Lena Waithe (James Frey has a story credit), Matsoukas imagines a heightened variation of our world, whereby outlaw lovers discover safety and also solidarity follow me their trip in unexpected locations as they end up being beloved people heroes for the African-American community, thanks to protests and also viral videos.
They’re ushered on their journey come Cuba through a mix that magic, serendipity and also unspoken collective action, whisked toward parts south via one underground rail of sorts, comprised of friendly bartenders in blues bars, you re welcome sex workers, impressionable kids, reluctant white allies and also even some cops. The trip isn’t totally realistic, however it continues to be plausible.
Working through cinematographer Tat Radcliffe, Matsoukas weaves a intuitive language that feels wholly brand-new for the big screen, bringing numerous of her music video clip hallmarks come the style of “Queen & Slim,” the outlaw icons’ story seemingly currently legend, looming large. In costume and also production design, they room rendered through a kind of iconicism and beauty. Radcliffe’s usage of natural and also practical lamp is stunning, with neon hues and fading sunshine glowing on insight skin. Matsoukas charts a visual journey from the gray Midwest to the vibrant Southeast, through green fields to pink sunsets. Her aesthetic is at once highly stylized yet spontaneous, serving the unreal reality of the tale.
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Kaluuya is predictably fantastic, unsuspecting and also earnestly sweet. But it’s Turner-Smith who stuns in a breakout performance, announcing the come of a major talent and also screen presence. They adjust each other, imperceptibly and also then all at once. He softens her, she hardens him, yet they’re bonded for life in the impossible struggle. Whipsawing between hope and also devastation, “Queen & Slim” speak to this specific cultural moment. It’s not through a base realism, yet with an virtually operatic sense of melodrama, in the writing, performances and also with Matsouka’s daring cinematic style, where beauty and politics room inextricably intertwined. The an adrenaline shot right to the heart, and a bold explanation of a bright new auteur.
‘QUEEN & SLIM’ 3.5 starsCast: Daniel Kaluuya, Jodie Turner-Smith, Chloë Sevigny, Flea, Bokeem Woodbine, Sturgill Simpson, Jahi Di’Allo Winston.Directed by Melina Matsoukas.Running time: 2 hours, 12 minutes.Rated R for violence, some strong sexuality, nudity, pervasive language, and also brief drug use.
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