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ESP’s film critic Gavin Miller settles on the sofa with the popcorn to review the films on the small screen during lockdown…

This was a very poignant movie to review at the moment – particularly with the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement in full force both sides of the Atlantic after the recent killing of George Floyd.

This fictional ‘Bonnie and Clyde-esque’ crime-drama, romance story – from first-time big-screen director Melina Matsoukas – sadly has more than a few passing similarities to current themes highlighted by the unsavoury Floyd incident.

A young couple, Slim (Oscar-nominated Get Out breakthrough star Daniel Kaluuya) and Queen (newcomer Jodie Turner-Smith), are out on their first ‘Tinder’ date when their night turns into a nightmare due to the actions of seemingly racist cop (Sturgill Simpson).

He pulls the duo over for a minor traffic infringement, but then unnecessarily takes it to the next level when young attorney Queen tries to stand up for the injustice of the situation, and in the struggle she gets shot in the leg and the cop gets killed after a scuffle with Slim – after he disarms him and shoots him in the face.

Realising the severity of the situation and that it’ll be highly unlikely there’ll be a fair account of the altercation, Queen and Slim go on the run from Ohio to New Orleans, then ultimately down to Florida in an attempt to escape to Cuba, as law enforcement agencies try to track them down – but cop-cam footage of their incident gets them ‘Robin Hood-type’ support in the Black community due to them standing up to the absurdity of the police officer’s actions.

This polarises the country as the burgeoning relationship between the couple sees them overcome multiple obstacles as Queen’s Uncle Earl (Spider-Man: Homecoming’s Bokeem Woodbine) and his friends – Johnny (Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Flea) and Carrie Shepherd (Boys Don’t Cry Oscar-nominated star Chloe Sevigny) – among others, help them along the way in their battle for freedom as they make their way down south.

The slow methodical pacing of the storyline from one mini location scene to the next might not be to your average movie-goer’s tastes (especially with a two hour-plus runtime) – with the poignant material never rushed from Matsoukas – but with great performances from the two leads and a ‘banging’ soundtrack and musical score to boot, it’s no wonder this received plenty of solid word-of-mouth support during awards season talk earlier this year.

And with a finale that makes it well worth the slow build – Kaluuya and Turner-Smith deserve to be king and queen of their castle.

ESP Rating: 4/5

Gavin Miller

Cast: Daniel Kaluuya, Jodie Turner-Smith, Bokeem Woodbine, Chloe Sevigny, Sturgill Simpson, Thom Gossom Jr & Flea

Running Time: 2 Hrs 12 Mins

Director: Melina Matsoukas


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