Staff Writer: Lindsay Keener
Editor’s note: This contains spoilers.
Striking in its delivery, the 2019 film Queen & Slim, written by Lena Waithe, contains fast-paced drama that resonates with many black people who understand their complicated relationship with America and the police force.
Since its debut, the film has garnered attention for its controversial scenes. Most notably, the end.
Torn apart by the single shred of a bullet, the deaths of Queen and Slim were as gut-wrenching as they were heartbreaking. The ultimate ending to this full-length motion picture, the stand-off between the police and the wanted couple, came as a reminder of America’s destructive patterns.
One Hampton University senior is weighed down by the plight of being black in today’s society.
“As black people, we feel our mortality every day,” HU senior Michyah Thomas said. “Personally, I’m tired of seeing black folk dying on screen at the hands of violent systems. We watch black folk get killed by police on the news and social media all the time. It’s not needed in a space where we’re seeking entertainment. It’s like profiting off of everyday black pain.”
While I am a fan of art imitating life, the predictability of Queen & Slim left a bad taste in my mouth as it did with Thomas. Far too often, we see films of police brutality, domestic violence and injustice, but rarely are these films so jarring and exploratory that they inspire a genre of their own.
For those who felt slighted by the ending of the film, many were left with a number of unanswered questions. Is it not enough for a black couple to find passionate and breathtaking love? Does a black person have to lose their ability to breathe in a movie for it to be a jaw-dropping experience?
The movie had less of an emotional impact on some than others.
“I didn’t feel a strong connection to either of them by the end of the film,” HU senior Randall Williams said. “They were never going to make it to Cuba. It was a matter of: How much can you attach a viewer to the movie before you evidently let them down? It didn’t happen for me, but for the majority of people, it did.”
Another HU senior Tyla Barnes had another perspective.
“They could have improved on the script,” she said. “They had very compelling visuals, and the script was OK, but there were a lot of unnecessary scenes that were really repetitive to me.”
Emotional turmoil was a factor for one Hampton University student shocked by the artistic depiction of impressionable adolescents impacted by police brutality.
“The scene involving the teenager and the black cop was quite graphic; I really wasn’t expecting him to shoot because it was a black cop that was trying to help him,” HU political science major Aman Tune said. “The surprised look on the cop’s face broke my heart entirely. It hurt that the teen’s emotions were so high that he felt he couldn’t trust any cop at all, to the point where he killed one.”
Some exited the theater feeling unfulfilled by the picture.
“I think the characters could have been developed more by going through more,” Williams said. “There was a lot of what I would call false tension in the film. Being on the run, especially after killing a cop as an African-American, feels like it’d be a little bit more hectic. I’m not knocking the writers, it’s just something that I would’ve liked to see more of.”
An intense and thought-provoking picture, Queen & Slim was sure to make an impression on its audience. Unfortunately, to some, that impression was not good at all.