Chris Roberts, American Renaissance, December 10, 2019
Warning: This review contains spoilers.
Queen & Slim, a black crime drama with a bit of romance that hit theaters last month, has been earning a lot of praise: ‘Queen & Slim’ Is The Black Love Story We Needed, REVIEW: ‘Queen & Slim’ an emotionally riveting, culturally relevant drama, Review: ‘Queen & Slim’ is romantic, urgent and beautiful, “Queen And Slim” Is Transcendent, Powerful, The Thrilling Shock of ‘Queen & Slim,’ ‘Queen and Slim’ is a masterpiece, a thrilling ride only fit for the bold, etc.
The film follows a black man and a black woman after they kill a brutish white police officer in self-defense. Knowing no judge or jury will ever believe their side of the story, they go on the run, driving from Cleveland to southern Florida in hopes of making it to Cuba.
This plot repeats what many liberals and blacks believe about police, but on strict cinematic grounds, the film is well made. It is well shot, written, and directed. Aside from two-dimensional whites, its characters are nuanced, imperfect, believable characters. My favorite thing about the film was its honest portrayal of blacks: The couple bickers frequently, a black father and son cuss and mistreat each other, one man is a violent and self-aggrandizing chauvinist, we see a black boy’s needless and deadly anti-police violence, etc.
Some blacks are happy the white police officer is dead, others are not; some blacks are trustworthy and helpful, others are treacherous; some are kind, others mean. This is rare in American cinema. Before the 1960s, black characters were usually villains or friendly simpletons. Later, blacks became oppressed angels, street thugs, or tools of villainous white people.
This movie did not make me feel more sympathy for blacks. First, I don’t believe in the myth the film promotes — that blacks are always at the mercy of racist white cops and have no chance of justice. Instead, I was struck by the intractability of racial strife.
The film itself suggests this. In the end, the protagonists are shot and killed by police after being betrayed by a black drug user looking to collect the cash reward for information leading to their arrest. Before that, a young black man becomes so enraged with the injustice he thinks he sees in the world that, unprovoked, he shoots a black police officer pointblank in the face. Aside from the couple, the black characters we get to know best are the woman’s repulsive uncle — in whose house they hide — and the gaggle of scantily-clad young women who hang out there and argue with their quasi-pimp. In a movie made by a black woman to increase sympathy for blacks, why are they the best developed characters?
If they are believable and representative, what hope is there for blacks? Almost every scene raises this question. A few blacks are elated the couple killed a white cop; they don’t even care why. Other blacks are indifferent. A black mechanic is unhappy at what they did, but still fixes their car and doesn’t turn them in. The black character who helps them the most is the uncle who, we eventually learn, killed his sister in a fit of rage years earlier. What should white Americans expect of these people as citizens?
The film offers no solutions. It is a harrowing tale of innocent blacks who got unlucky, made a good run for Cuba, but end up shot to pieces. The final scene is a montage of blacks mourning their deaths, blacks sadly watching the news on TV, and blacks putting up street art to memorialize them. Implication: There will always be white racism.
For the film to have a happy ending, the heroes would have to get to an isolated Communist country, never to return to America. Is this not another way of saying that whites and blacks can never be reconciled, that separation is the only solution?