I look up to Lena Waithe and Melina Matsoukas tremendously. They’ve both pushed boundaries in their own right and have presented works that are breathtakingly executed with grace. Even then, I went into the early screening of Queen and Slim (written by Lena and directed by Melina) with my guard up—subconsciously expecting nothing less than a film that would blow me away.
That being said, Queen and Slim delicately set aside every brick of my built-up wall with the love and care that was necessary to unpack the trauma of police brutality, post-slavery America, and the very concept of being Black and Free. I would love to tell you all about the story, but I wouldn’t want to rob you of the incredible experience that is watching it all unfold for yourself.
I feel like I may not be alone when I say that as a black person, I naturally and almost intuitively get nervous and prep myself for disappointment when pieces regarding black issues are presented on a worldwide platform. This is due to a lifetime of letdowns by way of exploitation and works that water down the black experience for the sake of mass consumption. I’ve gotten my hopes up and been let down enough to proceed with caution—even at the site of powerful names I truly admire.
This is a film that poetically represents a unique American experience and made me feel seen in so many beautiful ways. This piece managed to wrap fiction, history, and current societal issues into a work of art that was thoughtfully produced through and through.
I was relieved to trade in my fear of disappointment for a range of emotions that ultimately made me feel proud. This film was therapeutic in the way that art should be, at least for me. I hope you all head to the box offices on November 27th when it’s out to see it for yourself.
Words by Neijah Lanae
Imagery Courtesy of NBCUniversal