Queen & Slim ★★★½

I think Melina Matsoukas is a visionary, and one of the best contemporary black artists making unapologetically black art. I’ve been so psyched to see what a film from her looks like, and am still psyched to see her take on Y: The Last Man next year, but... I feel like I was hoping for something a lot stronger from this film.

It’s beautiful, the soundtrack is flawless, and there’s a shocking amount of big humor in the movie that works very well through the tension and fear, but it also feels like an extended short film. A lot of this movie is so art-forward and performed with a stilted dialogue style that it feels so much more like an art piece than it does a movie. It has a strange sense of pacing and the characters make some frustrating choices that left me wanting things to pick up a lot quicker than they did, but that’s not to say it doesn’t all feel real: it just feels a little... underwhelming. Maybe if I’d gone in with lesser expectations.

All that said, I think it’s still a great movie. It very well might be the most seminal black film of the year, rife with plenty of great shots and scenes that might stand the test of time as iconic. I’ve written so much about how endlessly exhausted I am to see black pain depicted in film over and over again, and this movie doesn’t necessarily bring anything new or refreshing enough to the table for me to feel invigorated in seeing it here yet again, but it’s still such a well-crafted, artful, powerful and painful film that I’d recommend without hesitation.

Also, someone needs to write a straight-up comedy for Bokeem Woodbine as soon as possible, and someone else needs to tell me when Flea and Chloe Sevigny are gonna show up in movies. You can’t just spring that on people, it’s irresponsible.

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