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Queen & Slim

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Queen & Slim
Theatrical release poster
Directed byMelina Matsoukas
Screenplay byLena Waithe
Story by
Produced by
  • Lena Waithe
  • Melina Matsoukas
  • Michelle Knudsen
  • Andrew Coles
  • Brad Weston
  • Pamela Abdy
CinematographyTat Radcliffe
Edited byPete Beaudreau
Music byDevonté Hynes
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release dates
  • November 14, 2019 (2019-11-14) (AFI Fest)
  • November 27, 2019 (2019-11-27) (United States)
Running time
132 minutes[2]
CountryUnited States
Budget$17–20 million[3][4]
Box office$47.9 million[1][5]

Queen & Slim is a 2019 American romantic road crime drama film directed by Melina Matsoukas (in her feature directorial debut) and with a screenplay by Lena Waithe from a story by James Frey and Waithe. The film tells the story of a young couple (Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie Turner-Smith) who go on the run after killing a police officer, in self-defense, in the heat of an argument during a traffic stop that had quickly escalated. Bokeem Woodbine, Chloë Sevigny, Flea, Sturgill Simpson and Indya Moore also star.

Queen & Slim had its world premiere at the AFI Fest on November 14, 2019, and was theatrically released in the United States on November 27, 2019, by Universal Pictures. It received positive reviews from critics, with praise for Kaluuya and Turner-Smith's lead performances, Matsoukas' direction and its overall theme and message. It grossed $47 million on a $20 million budget.


In 2019, after a client of hers is executed by the state, "Queen", a black criminal defense attorney, has an awkward and disappointing dinner with her Tinder date "Slim" in an Ohio diner. As he drives her home from what will be their one and only date, they are pulled over by a white police officer who searches Slim and his trunk without cause. When Slim mildly asks the officer to hurry as it is cold outside, the officer draws his gun on Slim. Queen angrily gets out to confront the officer, reaching for her phone, and he shoots her in the leg. Slim tackles the officer and a scuffle ensues, resulting in Slim grabbing the officer's gun and shooting him dead. Taking the gun and throwing away their phones, Queen tells Slim they must go on the run or else spend their lives in prison.

Out of gas, they flag down a passing Latino driver, Edgar, who turns out to be a Kentucky sheriff. He receives an APB about the officer's death and realizes Queen and Slim are the suspects. They take his truck at gunpoint, leaving him in the trunk of Slim's car, despite his offering to help them. They pay a young black boy to order them food, and he reveals that dashcam footage of their confrontation with the officer has gone viral. They accidentally strike the boy's father with the truck, but he is supportive of their actions — the police officer Slim shot having killed an unarmed black man two years earlier — and they drive him to a hospital. Slim has an unsettling encounter with a gas station clerk after letting him hold the gun.

They arrive in New Orleans at the house of Queen's estranged Uncle Earl, a pimp, and Slim proposes they escape to Cuba. After a police officer notices their truck, Earl gives them money and another car to reach Johnny Shepherd, a friend whose life he saved while serving overseas. Queen and Slim bond while dancing at a bar, where they are recognized by sympathetic locals, and stop to admire a horse by the road. Their car breaks down, forcing them to give all their money to a black mechanic, whose teenage son Junior expresses his admiration for them; Slim has Junior take their picture.

Slim calls his father, who cuts the call short; it is revealed that law enforcement was listening in, but his father refuses to cooperate. Queen takes Slim to visit the grave of her mother, who was accidentally killed by her Uncle Earl during a disagreement; Queen successfully defended him in her first trial. Slim comforts Queen, and they have sex in the car. At a protest in support of the fugitives, Junior is urged to leave by a compassionate black officer, whom he impulsively shoots in the face, and is himself killed.

Queen and Slim reach the home of Shepherd and his wife, who reveal that a $500,000 bounty has been placed on them, and Shepherd gives them directions to a man in Florida. A neighbor sees them arrive, and a SWAT team raids the house but fails to find them, hidden in a crawlspace under the Shepherds' bed. The next day, they sneak out of the house through a window and Queen dislocates her shoulder, which Slim resets, but her cry alerts a black officer stationed outside. He discovers them about to flee in the Shepherds' car but lets them escape.

They reach the Florida address and sleep in the car, awakened in the morning by a black man with a shotgun. They follow the man to his trailer where he makes a call, telling them a friend can help them escape by plane. He drives them to the tarmac and Queen and Slim walk toward a waiting plane, but a squad of police cars arrives on the scene. Joining hands, they declare their love for each other, but Queen is shot dead by an overeager officer. Ignoring police commands, an unarmed Slim carries Queen's body toward the officers and is gunned down as well.

The people Queen and Slim encountered react to news reports of their deaths; the Florida man has collected the bounty, while the police have falsely claimed that both Queen and Slim were armed when they were shot, despite footage showing the opposite. Their real names are revealed to be Angela Johnson and Ernest Hines, and hundreds attend their funeral, viewing them as martyrs as Junior's photo of them becomes a symbol across the country.



On July 19, 2018, it was announced that production company Makeready had won a bidding war to co-finance the dramatic thriller film Queen & Slim, scripted by Lena Waithe from an original idea by James Frey, which would star Daniel Kaluuya and be directed by Melina Matsoukas.[6] In November 2018, Jodie Turner-Smith was cast to star opposite Kaluuya.[7] In March 2019, Chloë Sevigny joined the cast of the film.[8]

Principal photography began in January 2019.[9][10] Production concluded on March 22, 2019.[11]


The score album for Queen & Slim was composed by English musician Devonté Hynes.[12] On choosing the composer, Matsoukas stated she wanted a "black composer that could live between classical, hip-hop, and pop that's current", further asking "Who would be our current Quincy Jones?". Matsoukas then turned to Solange Knowles for advice, Knowles suggested Hynes.[13]


Queen & Slim had its world premiere at the AFI Fest on November 14, 2019.[14] It was theatrically released in the United States on November 27, 2019, by Universal Pictures. It was released in the United Kingdom in January 2020.[15]


Box office[edit]

Queen & Slim grossed $43.8 million in the United States and Canada, and $3.9 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $47.7 million.[5]

In the United States and Canada, the film was released alongside Knives Out, and was projected to gross $12–16 million from 1,625 theaters over its five-day opening weekend.[3] It made $1.7 million on its first day, Wednesday, and $2.4 million on Thursday, which was Thanksgiving Day. It went on to gross $11.9 million during its opening weekend (a five-day total of $16 million), finishing fourth at the box office.[16] In its second weekend the film made $6.5 million (a drop of 45%), remaining in fourth.[17]

Critical response[edit]

Review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported an approval rating of 83% based on 223 reviews, with an average rating of 7.4/10. The site's critics consensus reads, "Stylish, provocative, and powerful, Queen & Slim tells a gripping fugitive story steeped in timely, thoughtful subtext."[18] Metacritic, another review aggregator, assigned the film a weighted average score of 74 out of 100 based on 43 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[19] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A−" on an A+ to F scale, while those at PostTrak gave it an average 5 out of 5 stars, with 79% saying they would definitely recommend it.[16]

Mark Kermode of The Guardian assigned the film four out of five stars writing: "in the end it's the love story that makes the film matter, conjured with enough electricity to allow the polemics of the head to be swept along by the passions of the heart."[20] Johnny Oleksinki of New York Post praised Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie Turner-Smith's lead performances.[21] Adam White of The Independent labelled it "simultaneously beautiful and troubling" and praised Melina Matsoukas' directing.[22]


Award Date of ceremony Category Recipients Result Ref.
African-American Film Critics Association December 10, 2019 Impact Award Melina Matsoukas, Lena Waithe and James Frey Won [23]
Top 10 Best Films Won
Alliance of Women Film Journalists Awards January 10, 2020 Best Woman's Breakthrough Performance Jodie Turner-Smith Nominated [24]
ASCAP London Awards October 21, 2020 Top Music Film Awards Devonté Hynes Won [25]
Austin Film Critics Association Awards January 6, 2020 Best First Film Melina Matsoukas Nominated [26]
BET Awards June 28, 2020 Best Movie Queen & Slim Won [27]
Black Film Critics Circle Awards December 19, 2019 Best Picture Melina Matsoukas, Lena Waithe and James Frey Nominated [27]
Best Original Screenplay Lena Waithe Won
Black Reel Awards February 6, 2020 Outstanding Film Melina Matsoukas, Lena Waithe and James Frey Nominated [28]
Outstanding Director Melina Matsoukas Nominated
Outstanding Emerging Director Won
Outstanding Actress Jodie Turner-Smith Nominated
Outstanding Breakthrough Performance, Female Nominated
Outstanding Actor Daniel Kaluuya Nominated
Outstanding Screenplay, Adapted or Original Lena Waithe Nominated
Outstanding First Screenplay Won
Outstanding Original Score Dev Hynes Nominated
Outstanding Cinematography Tad Radcliffe Won
Outstanding Costume Design Shiona Turini Nominated
Outstanding Production Design Karen Murphy Nominated
Outstanding Original Song "Collide" (by Tiana Major9 and EarthGang) Won
"Guarding the Gates" (by Lauryn Hill) Nominated
Costume Designers Guild Awards January 28, 2020 Excellence in Contemporary Film Shiona Turini Nominated [29]
Directors Guild of America Awards January 25, 2020 Outstanding Directing – First-Time Feature Film Melina Matsoukas Nominated [30]
Florida Film Critics Circle Awards December 23, 2019 Best First Film Melina Matsoukas Won [31]
Guild of Music Supervisors Awards February 6, 2020 Best Music Supervision for Films Budgeted Under $25 Million Kier Lehman Won [32]
Hawaii Film Critics Society Awards January 14, 2020 Best First Film Melina Matsoukas Nominated [33]
Best New Filmmaker Nominated
Hollywood Music in Media Awards November 20, 2019 Outstanding Music Supervision - Film Kier Lehman Nominated [34]
Best Soundtrack Album Queen & Slim Soundtrack Nominated
Hollywood Critics Association Awards January 9, 2020 Best First Feature Melina Matsoukas Nominated [35]
Motion Picture Sound Editors Awards January 19, 2020 Outstanding Achievement in Sound Editing – Music Underscore Joseph S. DeBeasi Nominated [36]
NAACP Image Awards February 22, 2020 Outstanding Motion Picture Queen & Slim Nominated [37]
Outstanding Ensemble Cast in a Motion Picture Nominated
Outstanding Independent Motion Picture Nominated
Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture Daniel Kaluuya Nominated
Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture Jodie Turner-Smith Nominated
Outstanding Breakthrough Role in a Motion Picture Nominated
Outstanding Soundtrack/Compilation Album Queen & Slim Soundtrack Nominated
National Board of Review December 3, 2019 Best Directorial Debut Melina Matsoukas Won [38]
Online Association of Female Film Critics December 23, 2019 Breakthrough Filmmaker Melina Matsoukas Nominated [39]
Online Film Critics Society Awards January 6, 2020 Best Debut Feature Melina Matsoukas Nominated [40]
St. Louis Film Critics Association Awards December 15, 2019 Best Original Screenplay Lena Waithe Nominated [41]
Toronto Film Critics Association Awards December 8, 2019 Best First Feature Melina Matsoukas Nominated [42]
Women Film Critics Circle Awards December 9, 2019 Best Woman Storyteller Lena Waithe Nominated [43]
Best Equality of the Sexes Queen & Slim Nominated
Best Screen Couple Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie Turner-Smith Nominated
Josephine Baker Award Queen & Slim Runner-up

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Queen & Slim (2019)". The Numbers. Retrieved August 27, 2020.
  2. ^ "Queen & Slim". AFI Fest. Retrieved October 30, 2019.
  3. ^ a b D'Alessandro, Anthony (November 25, 2019). "'Frozen 2' To Near $284M By Next Sunday, 'Knives Out' Could Touch $30M – Thanksgiving B.O. Preview". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved November 25, 2019.
  4. ^ Yohana Desta (October 22, 2019). "Lena Waithe Hopes Queen & Slim Makes Trump Mad: "I Look Forward to That Tweet"". Vanity Fair. Retrieved November 11, 2019.
  5. ^ a b "Queen & Slim (2019)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved January 31, 2020.
  6. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (July 19, 2018). "Makeready Sets 'Queen & Slim'; Daniel Kaluuya Stars, Melina Matsoukas Directs Lena Waithe Script". Deadline. Retrieved July 22, 2018.
  7. ^ Kroll, Justin (November 8, 2018). "Jodie Smith-Turner to Star Opposite Daniel Kaluuya in 'Queen & Slim' (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved November 8, 2018.
  8. ^ Bentley, Jean (March 22, 2019). "HOW TRUE-CRIME HORROR STORY THE ACT CAME TO LIFE". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved March 22, 2019.
  9. ^ "Queen and Slim". Production List. 2018-12-17. Retrieved January 1, 2019.
  10. ^ "Queen & Slim". Backstage. Retrieved January 17, 2019.
  11. ^ "Queen & Slim". filmneworleans.org. Retrieved March 22, 2019.
  12. ^ Strauss, Matthew (November 19, 2019). "Devonté Hynes (aka Blood Orange) Details Queen & Slim Album, Shares New Songs: Listen". Pitchfork. Retrieved February 15, 2020.
  13. ^ Chow, Andrew R. (November 22, 2019). "How Queen and Slim's Filmmakers Captured the Past, Present and Future of Black Music". Time. Retrieved February 15, 2020.
  14. ^ Sharf, Zack (August 27, 2019). "AFI FEST 2019 Sets 'Queen & Slim' World Premiere for Opening Night". IndieWire. Retrieved August 27, 2019.
  15. ^ "QUEEN & SLIM In Cinemas in January 2020". Filmoria.co.uk. 2019-09-13. Retrieved 13 September 2019.
  16. ^ a b D'Alessandro, Anthony (December 1, 2019). "'Frozen 2' Scores Second Best Wednesday For November & Animated Pic With Near $24M, 'Knives Out' Earns $8M+: Thanksgiving B.O." Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved December 1, 2019.
  17. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (December 8, 2019). "'Frozen 2' Leads Dreary December Weekend With $34M+, 'Playmobil' Plunges To $670K – Sunday Update". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved December 8, 2019.
  18. ^ "Queen & Slim (2019)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved October 10, 2021.
  19. ^ "Queen & Slim Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved December 27, 2019.
  20. ^ Kermode, Mark; critic, Observer film (2020-02-02). "Queen & Slim review – love on the run across the US racial divide". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2020-02-04.
  21. ^ Oleksinski, Johnny (2019-11-25). "'Queen & Slim' film review: A heartbreaking road trip". New York Post. Retrieved 2020-02-04.
  22. ^ "Queen & Slim struggles to meld its beauty with its politics – review". The Independent. 2020-01-30. Retrieved 2020-02-04.
  23. ^ Rahman, Abid (October 10, 2019). "Jordan Peele's 'Us' Named Best Film by African-American Film Critics Association 2019". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved December 14, 2019.
  24. ^ Messner, Thomas (January 10, 2020). "'Parasite' wins Alliance of Women Film Journalists awards". Screen Daily. Retrieved March 1, 2020.
  25. ^ "2020 Ascap London Awards". American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. October 21, 2020. Retrieved October 21, 2020.
  26. ^ "The 2019 Austin Film Critics Association (AFCA) Nominations". Next Best Picture. December 30, 2019. Retrieved January 6, 2020.
  27. ^ a b Tartaglione, Nancy (December 19, 2019). "Black Film Critics Circle Anoints 'Dolemite Is My Name' As Best Film". Deadline. Retrieved March 1, 2020.
  28. ^ "Black Reel Awards 2020". December 12, 2019. Archived from the original on December 12, 2019. Retrieved December 13, 2019.
  29. ^ Schmidt, Ingrid (January 28, 2020). "'Knives Out,' 'Jojo Rabbit' Take Home Honors at Costume Designers Guild Awards". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved March 1, 2020.
  30. ^ Jackson, Angelique (January 7, 2020). "Directors Guild Nominees Include Bong Joon Ho, Sam Mendes, Taika Waititi". Variety. Retrieved January 9, 2020.
  31. ^ Neglia, Matt (December 23, 2019). "The 2019 Florida Film Critics Circle (FFCC) Winners". Next Best Picture. Retrieved March 1, 2020.
  32. ^ Herman, James Patrick (February 7, 2020). "Guild of Music Supervisors Awards: Regina Spektor, 'Euphoria' Among Winners (Full List)". Variety. Retrieved March 1, 2020.
  33. ^ Wurst II, Barry (January 6, 2020). "Hawaii Film Critics Society 2019 Nominees List". Hawaii Film Critics Society. Retrieved March 1, 2020.
  34. ^ Harris, LaTesha (November 5, 2019). "'Joker,' 'Lion King,' 'Us' Lead 2019 Hollywood Music in Media Awards Nominees". Variety. Retrieved March 1, 2020.
  35. ^ "The 2019 Hollywood Critics Association (HCA) Nominations". Next Best Picture. November 25, 2019. Retrieved March 1, 2020.
  36. ^ Ramos, Dino-Ray (December 19, 2019). "Motion Picture Sound Editors Unveil 67th Annual Golden Reel Nominations". Deadline.
  37. ^ France, Lisa Respers (February 23, 2020). "The 51st NAACP Image Awards winners list". CNN. Retrieved March 1, 2020.
  38. ^ Sharf, Zack (December 3, 2019). "National Board of Review 2019: 'The Irishman' Wins Best Film, Adam Sandler Named Best Actor". IndieWire. Retrieved December 3, 2019.
  39. ^ "The 2019 Online Association Of Female Film Critics (OAFFC) Winners". Next Best Picture. December 23, 2019. Retrieved March 1, 2020.
  40. ^ Sharma, Aayush (December 25, 2019). "'The Irishman,' 'Marriage Story' Lead Online Film Critics Society Nominations". International Business Times. Retrieved March 1, 2020.
  41. ^ Neglia, Matt (December 15, 2019). "The 2019 St. Louis Film Critics Association (StLFCA) Winners". Next Best Picture. Retrieved March 1, 2020.
  42. ^ "'Parasite' big winner at Toronto Film Critics Association Awards". The Star. December 8, 2019. Retrieved March 1, 2020.
  43. ^ Neglia, Matt (December 9, 2019). "The 2019 Women Film Critics Circle (WFCC) Winners". Next Best Picture. Retrieved March 1, 2020.

External links[edit]