Queen & Slim: Melina Matsoukas’ Modern African-American Take on Bonnie and Clyde

Directed by Melina Matsoukas in her feature debut, Queen & Slim was written by Lena Waithe, based on a story by James Frey and Waithe.

The film stars Daniel Kaluuya, Jodie Turner-Smith, Bokeem Woodbine, Chloë Sevigny, Flea, Sturgill Simpson and Indya Moore.

A modern take on the legend of Bonnie and Clyde, the plot follows two African-Americans who go on the run after killing a police officer during a traffic stop gone wrong.

World premiering at the AFI Fest, Queen & Slim was released by Universal November 27, 2019.

Attorney Queen has dinner with her date Slim in an Ohio diner. Slim drives Queen home afterwards; his presumably erratic driving attracts the attention of police officer who pulls the two over and makes Slim step out of the car.

The agitated officer draws his gun on Slim, and when Queen gets out and tries to record the incident on her phone, he shoots at her, grazing her leg. Slim tackles the officer before grabbing his gun and shooting him in self-defense. Queen tells Slim that they have to go on the run or will spend the rest of their lives in prison.

When they run out of gas, the pair flags down a pickup truck for help. The driver, Edgar, turns out to be a sheriff in Kentucky. At the gas station, Edgar gets a notice on his radio about the Ohio officer’s death and identifies Queen and Slim as the suspects. They hold Edgar at gunpoint and steal his truck, trapping him in their broke-down car’s trunk.

Queen and Slim travel to New Orleans seeking help from her estranged Uncle Earl, a pimp. Although reluctant, Queen convinces Earl to aid them since she helped him avoid jail for killing her mother. Slim proposes that they escape to Cuba, and Earl tells them that when he was serving in Iraq, he saved the life of a Mr. Shepherd who would be able to help them get there from Miami. Queen and Slim eventually take one of Earl’s cars and head theaters Florida.

As they continue their drive, the couple’s car breaks down. They take it to a garage where the mechanic’s son, Junior, expresses admiration for them. The next day, Queen and Slim have sex in their car.  At a protest in support of Queen and Slim, Junior pulls a gun on the officer and impulsively killing him, and is subsequently killed.

Queen and Slim go to the Shepherds, but when a neighbor recognizes them, a SWAT team shows up. the Shepherds have Queen and Slim hide in a crawlspace under the bed in their room. As they go to take a spare car from the Shepherds’ garage, a black officer stumbles upon them, but lets them go.

They reach a man who leads them to a friend with a plane, but a squad of cops corner them. An overzealous cop then shoots Queen in the chest, instantly killing her. Devastated, Slim picks up her corpse and carries her toward the cops, leading them to gun him down as well.

The tragic end to the manhunt is publicized, and the couple’s real names are disclosed, turning them into martyrs and heroes.