A super tense, emotional rollercoaster. It has its issues for me, but it was a thrill ride from start to finish.
DIRECTOR: Melina Matsoukas
STARRING: Daniel Kaluuya, Jodie Turner-Smith, Bokeem Woodbine
SCREENPLAY: Lena Waithe (screenplay by), James Frey (story by)
RUNTIME: 131 Minutes
★★★★ 3.5 Stars
I knew next to nothing (read: Nothing) about this film, other then what I had seen in a (one) review the morning I saw the movie. I don’t know about how widely it’s being marketed in the US, but here in the UK, there seemed to be very little hype for it. Which is a hell of a shame because this film is a nail-biting thriller the entire time and carries an important message with it as well.
The story focuses on ‘Queen’ and ‘Slim’, two young black people who are out for the evening on their first, (really awkward) date. On the way home they are pulled over by a police officer for a traffic violation. He begins to act aggressively and Slim is forced to defend himself, unintentionally shooting the officer. The film follows them as they frantically try to avoid being arrested for murder and their journey across the country towards possible escape.
A Bonnie and Clyde reimagined for the 21stcentury. A film like this is driven very hard my it’s characters. You have to care about them, or the whole pretence here will not work. In the beginning of the film, our two lead characters barely know each other. Queen comes off as very standoffish and stuck up. Wanting everything done her way and criticising Slim for every little thing she doesn’t like. And slim is for all intents and purposes, just an average guy, who wants to do right by his family and live a good life. Throughout the story, which only spans the length of a week, we see how the situation they find themselves in changes them as a person. The actors do a great job in portraying these roles, and although it is a late of two people brought together through circumstance, its great to watch their relationship grow and develop, as they have to react to their rapidly spiralling situation.
This film is also shot beautifully. Using a lot of interesting angles and techniques to vary up the viewing experience. The whole thing was a feast for the eyes. Not what I would expect from a Crime Drama at all. The director does a great job of splitting up the gut wrenching tension with great light moments, either emotional or humorous in nature, it saved the whole thing from feeling too serious, despite the serious subject matter it deals with.
I did a big issue with some of the pacing though. Baring in mind that these characters are more than likely going to be shot if they are aught, they constantly argue about where they should go and what they should do. With one character wanting to stop the, car one minute for a completely frivolous reason, then ten minutes later, yelling at the other one for wanting to do exactly the same thing. Yes, this does get us some genuine moments of humour, (I’m thinking of the horses here.) But it gets tiresome the third or fourth time it happens. Plenty of epic road trip movies have been made that don’t require the car to keep stopping every 3 seconds.
This film is no doubt important, and doesn’t shy away from highlighting the problems of racial injustice minorities face, not only in the US but worldwide. And for a film that carries such an important message, I don’t think it’s getting the attention it deserves.