Rarely has a Tinder date ended so poorly than the one shown in “Queen & Slim.” Even more rarely has a bad Tinder date produced such a great film.
The remarkable “Queen & Slim” is a romance and a road movie, a film about outlaws on the run, two journeys of self-discovery and a nuanced social commentary. It’s not perfect but it’s close — an urgent, beautiful and socially conscious trip through the American racial psyche in 2019.
“Queen & Slim” is the feature-film directorial debut from Melina Matsoukas, who has directed episodes of HBO’s “Insecure” and helmed Beyonc?’s Grammy-winning video “Formation.” The script is from Emmy-winner Lena Waithe (Netflix’s “Master of None”) with, bizarrely, an assist from disgraced “A Million Little Pieces” author James Frey, and a nod to “Thelma & Louise.”
The film starts in a Cleveland diner with a mismatched pair who have connected online. She’s a stiff lawyer in a turtleneck; he’s a peaceful retail worker in Carhartt. She picked him because his profile picture looked sad. (“I felt sorry for you,” she says.) This date is going nowhere.
Driving her home — we don’t learn their real names until the very end — Slim is pulled over for failing to execute a turn signal. The white police officer’s aggressive style cycles out of control and ends with the cop shot, Queen injured and three lives forever altered. The couple can’t wait around to explain they acted in self-defense: They’re both young and black and a white cop is dying. They have to go. Now.