First dates can be intimidating and, in the age of social media, fraught with expectations and disappointments.
We meet Queen (Jodie Turner-Smith) and Slim (Daniel Kaluuya) on their first date in a Cleveland diner. Slim chooses the diner because it's owned by a member of the black community, not because he can't afford a more expensive restaurant, as Queen suggests. He self-assurance reeks of arrogance.
Queen is a lawyer, lives alone and prefers her own company. She meets Slim on Tinder because she doesn't want to be alone after she has had a bad day in court.
Slim is devoted to his family and lives an honest life. He's looking to meet someone and find true love.
He wants love and commitment. She wants company and a diversion. It doesn't seem like the ingredients for a romantic night.
Their lacklustre date turns extraordinary on their drive home. They are pulled over by Officer Reed (Sturgill Simpson) for a minor traffic infringement. This minor incident escalates quickly to a confrontation.
Slim is passive and obliges the increasingly aggressive and obviously racist cop. Queen calls upon her legal knowledge to challenge the cop. She insists on her rights and demands he stops mishandling Slim.
Her insistence, the cop's intransigence and Slim's instinctive reactions lead to an explosive outcome. Shots are fired and Queen and Slim become accidental outlaws.
Their decision to run rather than confront the justice system, especially with the video evidence from the cop's dash cam to support their actions, is not convincing.
Queen and Slim is an exposition about the rights of black Americans, their uneasy relationship with police brutality, violence and shootings softened by the human story of a burgeoning affection between Queen and Slim.
There are adjoining issues hidden in the film's side pockets. Every now and then the director delves into those pockets, brings out an adjacent issue and then neatly tucks it back into the pocket without allowing us to have the full story.
One such side pocket involves Junior (Jahi Di'Allo Winston), a teenager enamoured with Queen and Slim's infamy. For him, they are a call to action. His own actions are severe, yet the consequences are unresolved.
Queen and Slim become poster heroes for and epitomise the plight of black communities and their fraught relationships with law enforcement organisations.
As they hit the road from Ohio through Kentucky and Georgia on their way to Florida, Queen and Slim are recognised and acknowledged by black communities as activists in the fight for equality and justice.
Queen and Slim see themselves as uncertain heroes vacillating between vulnerability and awareness. Their plight is the stuff of which folk heroes are made.
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