Scores (by Greg) (out of 5)
Value of the Tomatometer: 5
Value of Zanna's opinion of the Tomatometer: 1
Zanna's ability to say the word "Tomatometer": 0
Driving home after the movie, I said I felt like my experience had been spoiled by having seen the trailer, which had revealed the fact the protagonistic couple shoots a cop and spends the rest of the movie on the run.
In a confrontational tone, Zanna asked, "Why did that spoil your experience? That part of the film, the inciting incident, comes right at the start."
She was wrong there, though. The start showed the couple in a restaurant having an uncomfortable first date; the shooting came about five minutes in. I said, "Maybe they were going to end up having a nice time and it was going to be a movie about their relationship or something."
She yawned. It was 2pm.
I went on, "And then the cop shooting would have been a surprise. Surprises are nice. I enjoy having surprises in a movie."
Condescendingly, she said, "Yeah, it just doesn't bother me at all, knowing the plot of the film. Doesn't spoil my experience."
"Great," I said, hurt and therefore spiteful. "Obviously that's what they assumed, making a trailer like that. But it takes something away, because you don't have that surprise. I still enjoyed the movie. I'm not saying that - it's a small thing."
She laughed condescendingly: "The world in which you show up to a movie not having ever heard anything about what it's about ...
"Is a better world," I said.
"It's a better world."
"How are you going to know if you're interested in this film?"
"The Tomatometer," I said, referring to the score on ubiquitous review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes. "If it's over 80, I'm going to be into it."
"Hmmmm," she said doubtfully. "That's a flawed system though, isn't it?"
"No," I said, "I think your system's flawed."
"Well let's just think about it, shall we? Let's just think about it for a moment. Who is contributing to the Tomater?"
"Tomatometer," I said. "Critics."
"Predominantly white male critics," she said.
"Could be black people," I said.
"There will be some."
"Could be women," I said.
"There will be some women too - but it will be primarily white males. So it will be giving a primarily white male opinion …"
"Well, let me just interrupt to give you a white male opinion."
"Yes," she said, exasperatedly, "You love to do that."
I gave a long and high-level interpretation of the movie. She disagreed with most of it.
Is Nicolas Cage's scary new film good for couples? We find out.
Should you swipe left or right on Queen & Slim?
I would give Queen & Slim 82; our post-movie discussion 39.
Several times in our ten-year relationship, when Greg and I have been watching an emotional film, he has reached over and annoyingly patted my cheeks to feel for tears. Each time I have swatted his hand away, yelling that he'd ruined the emotional climax of the film. He would always have some lame excuse about the patriarchy making him uncomfortable with real emotions. Yawn.
Thankfully, he doesn't do this anymore but about two-thirds of the way through Queen & Slim, during one of the rare heartwarming moments, he leaned over and whispered, "Corny." Moment ruined.
He wasn't wrong; the line was a bit corny. But people are corny. As a whole, the story of Queen & Slim is somewhat predictable - a "black Bonnie and Clyde" as one character says, but set in the Black Lives Matter era. It's much more harrowing than watching Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway on the run though because Queen and Slim aren't criminals, they're just assumed criminals - even before they've done anything wrong.
It's written by Lena Waithe, from Netflix series Master of None, directed by Melina Matsoukas who directed Beyonce's game-changing Formation video and you can definitely see some music video stylisation in the film's aesthetics.
There are some glorious road-movie shots of the American south and it's impossible not to see this through a Covid-19 lens now - two people covering so much land, recklessly standing too close to people, dancing in a crowded club (gasp!), hugging, using someone's phone without sanitising first. There isn't even a single scene where they wash their hands.
Last year, when people were still allowed to gather, I attended the Power of Inclusion Summit and listened to the unfathomably articulate Yara Shahidi (then 19) talk about the need to allow black people to exist outside of their trauma in film and television. Queen & Slim definitely doesn't do that: the film is devastating, and it has received some criticism from black critics for that.
However, I really enjoyed it. I found myself fully invested in the plight of Queen and Slim (no small feat during a global pandemic), enchanted by their love story, and appropriately troubled by the socio-political commentary around police brutality, gun violence and being black in America.
It didn't matter one iota that I knew what was going to happen.