January 3, 2020 – This Bonnie and Clyde story is closely related to actual events that led to the “Black Lives Matter” movement across the U.S. after a series of police shootings of unarmed blacks. While the scenario in this movie is certainly possible, it seems pretty unlikely, even with all the unjustified police shootings that have come to light recently.
Earnest “Slim” Hines (played by Daniel Kaluuya of “Get Out”) and Angela “Queen” Johnson (Jodie Turner-Smith of “Lemon”) are on their first date, which is going badly. They seem like a mismatched pair. On their way home, a policeman (played by Sturgill Simpson) pulls Slim over for erratic driving and proceeds to search his car.Queen, who is a lawyer, objects to the search and asks for the officer's badge number, which he refuses to give. The confrontation escalates and the policeman pulls a gun and shoots Queen, at which point Slim jumps him. In the struggle, Slim kills the policeman with his own gun.
Queen, who has just lost a capital murder case, doesn't see any legal way out of this mess, despite the fact that Slim arguably killed the policeman in self defense. She persuades Slim to go on the run with her. The two eventually come up with a plan to escape the law by fleeing to Cuba.
This leads to a long road trip which makes up the bulk of the film as the couple heads from Ohio to Florida, by way of New Orleans. Queen's Uncle Earl (Bokeem Woodbine of “Overlord”) who owes her a big favor, gives her a car and traveling money as well as some contacts from his prison days.
This road trip to Florida is almost dreamlike as they drift along back roads, stopping for meals, gas, car repairs, and even to ride a horse. The police almost catch them at times, but they escape with the help of friends and others who are inspired by their example. But their example also has unintended consequences.
As they travel along together, bound by their fateful encounter with police, they eventually become lovers, and pledge their undying love for each other. They talk about passing into legend, like Bonnie and Clyde.
This movie does cover a familiar story arc like others long before, but this is a truly exceptional debut feature for director Melina Matsoukas, best known for music videos. The acting, by Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie Turner-Smith, is excellent and the cinematography by Tat Radcliffe is haunting. This film rates a B.
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