Queen & Slim Tells Story About Blackness In America
Queen & Slim retells the Bonnie and Clyde myth as a story about blackness in America
Americans love the legend of doomed young lovers on the run. In Queen & Slim, that love gets reexamined.
Queen & Slim, starring Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie Smith-Turner in a tale of young lovers on the run, invites comparisons to the story of Bonnie and Clyde from the drop. It’s the tale, sometimes bloody, of two doomed young lovers on the run from the law — a familiar American archetype.
But if Queen & Slim is consciously playing with that story, it’s also subverting it. The real-life Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow were thieves and criminals who captured national attention in the early 1930s, the press telling breathless (and sometimes souped-up) stories of their swaggering exploits. They died in an ambush on May 23, 1934, at the ages of 23 and 25, respectively, and their deaths became the seeds of a legend.
Which isn’t to say that it hasn’t been told as a black story before — maybe most famously by Jay-Z and Beyoncé in “‘03 Bonnie and Clyde,” which became the highest-charting song about the pair. It’s a song about glamour and young love, with Jay-Z rapping through the verses (“Put us together, how they gon’ stop both us?”) and then trading lines with his then-girlfriend Beyoncé on the chorus: “All I need in this life of sin is me and my girlfriend / Down to ride ‘til the very end, is me and my boyfriend.”