January 27, 2020
Queen & Slim is the latest in a series of films exploring police brutality against African Americans, with mixed results
The Black Lives Matter effect: how cinema is tackling an epidemic of police shootings
How many times have we seen a white police officer pull over an African-American driver in a movie? Enough to know exactly what to do, even if we have never been in the situation ourselves. Be polite and cooperative. Hands where they can see them. No sudden movements. Even then, an innocent black driver might not make it out alive. In Queen & Slim, the black couple of the title (played by Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie Turner-Smith) do survive, but the white cop doesn’t. Like us, they know these incidents rarely end in justice. So they hit the road and hope for the best.
Queen & Slim, directed by Melina Matsoukas and written by Lena Waithe, takes a stylish detour off what has become a well-travelled road in the Black Lives Matter era. In the past few years, we have had numerous takes on the subject of police killings of innocent African Americans, often made by black film-makers: Ryan Coogler’s Fruitvale Station (which ennobled the real life and death of Oscar Grant); The Hate U Give; Blindspotting; Monsters and Men. Reality has not just fuelled the passion behind these movies, it has provided the corroboration, in the form of amateur mobile phone and dashcam evidence of real-life police brutality.
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