Updated: Jul 23, 2020
My husband and I have a weekly date night. It's our time to connect with each other and catch up on so many of the things we miss out on while adulting. After 26 years of being together, we try to find first time experiences.
A great thing about going to the movies is that although we might be doing something we've done before, it still qualifies as a first because we haven't seen that particular movie. This week we went to see the film Queen & Slim. It was a first that fostered great dialogue. And even though we haven't had the chance to fully unpack our thoughts, I know that we've both been pondering it.
Even if this blog doesn't post for weeks, I want to capture my thoughts about this movie before reading any commentary or hearing anyone else's feedback. There were so many moments in this film in which I wished I could have pressed pause and wrote my heart out. There were one liners that would circle through my thoughts and almost keep me from catching the next quote.
I will share my thoughts below and try my best not to spoil anything for anyone. If you have already seen it, my goal is to make you want to rewatch. And if you haven't seen it I hope this will compel you to put it on your calendar and make it a priority.
Let's start with Slim, Daniel Kaluuya portrayed this character so well. From the opening scene, you get a good glimpse of who he is and how he relates to the world around him. He was completely comfortable with who he was, it was both refreshing and irritating to watch. Refreshing because I enjoy seeing Black men who are content in their own skin. But irritating because as a mama of four black men, I felt nervous for him and wanted to correct some of his character's quirks.
And now Queen, Jody Turner-Smith, I could tell this girl was what I call an A.B.C. "A Bad Chic" from the beginning. Beautiful, brilliant, bold, and bothered. The initial dissonance between her and Slim felt like she was verbally translating the thoughts Black women think in their minds, say under their breath, and based on the geographic location of where they were born, are hesitant to say out loud.
All the makings of a good romantic drama. It's nice to fall in love with characters so quickly. The writers did a great job of highlighting the flawsomeness (flaws + awesomeness) of every person depicted.
Bokeem Woodbine (Queen's Uncle Earl) may have been my favorite cast member. He reminded me of the guys I use to date. Guys that tried to do what's right, but in return got done so wrong that they manufacture an environment for themselves in which they "feel" like they are the leader they know they were meant to be.
In an effort to not spoil the film I'm going to make short observations about the other cast members.
The antagonist totally caught me off guard, kudos to the writers for shattering my heart through capturing the harsh realities of the world we live in.
I think wives should listen very closely to the prostitute's words.
The mechanic's son, reflected misguided passion and the devastating consequences.
I appreciate Slim's dad. I applaud him for his action.
My favorite question was, "Why do black people feel the need to be excellent?" It left me both convicted and comforted.
The first officer broke my heart. The second sheriff hugged my heart. The officer at the riot occupies a special place in my heart. The officer who assisted the two endangered deer brought hope to my psyche and my soul.
One element I appreciated is that Queen & Slim were unaware of how much their mere survival brought hope to the masses. I think that was one of my greatest takeaways. The thought that you can be struggling, wondering where your next meal will come from, or how you will put gas in your car, and just the fact that you are together you make the world better.
A good story is one you can see yourself in. I think there is something in this script for everyone. There were pivotal moments in which the directors depicted transformation through non-verbal cues. Subtle shifts spoke loudly. At times difficult to watch, on one occasion I covered my eyes, but peeked through my fingers to be sure I could see. If felt like life. (Sometimes you want to look away, but something inside of you has to see.)
There were tender moments, comic relief, and enough suspense to prevent you from going to the bathroom. Queen & Slim made me appreciate my marriage and reflect on how far we've come since we were juniors and seniors in high school. One of the things that connected my husband and myself was that although we grew up in different worlds we had the same massive poster of Malcolm X on our bedroom wall.
This movie showed how two people can come from two different backgrounds and see the world through two different lenses. Both shaped by life's experiences that were valid and real, but over time can discover that they have much to gain from embracing the other partner's paradigm.
I think the big picture that I wish to apply Queen & Slim is that staying together is more important than what tries to tear us apart. We can be so busy striving so hard to leave a legacy or be excellent that we miss the fact that we already are.