‘Queen & Slim’ Director on Why Her Film’s Heroes Aren’t Really ‘Black Bonnie & Clyde’ (Video)

Melina Matsoukas’ crime love story starring Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie Turner-Smith opens in theaters Nov. 27

The protagonists of “Queen & Slim” are branded as the “black Bonnie & Clyde” after going on the run after killing a racist police officer in an act of self-defense. It’s a catchy name as seen in the new trailer for the film, which was released on Wednesday, but the movie’s director, Melina Matsoukas, doesn’t think that’s the best comparison.

In a special preview event to the press last week, Matsoukas said that black love stories are often compared to other white archetypes. But rather than turn stars Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie Turner-Smith into anti-heroes as in “Bonnie & Clyde,” the story of “Queen & Slim” is meant to be universal with its themes of love, capital punishment, police brutality and the unity of the country.

The nicknames of Queen and Slim are common in black communities, and the romance between on-screen Queen and Slim is meant to represent “all of us,” or “all different shades of black,” Matsoukas said. She added that it isn’t until the end of the film that the audience learns their given names.

As shown in the new trailer for the film above, “Queen & Slim” is the story of a couple on an awkward first date that ends abruptly when they’re pulled over by a white cop, and in a flurry, Slim ends up shooting and killing the cop in an act of self-defense. The whole thing is caught on a police dashboard camera, and though these two people would’ve likely never seen each other again, they’re now forever entwined.

The trailer depicts something of a dreamy odyssey, road trip and romance across the country, with Matsoukas comparing it to the 1978 film “The Wiz.”

TheWrap got a sneak peek at the film’s harrowing first 15 minutes before the title card. It opens with Kaluuya and Turner-Smith on a Tinder date at a diner on a frigid night in Cleveland, Ohio. “Didn’t you order scrambled eggs?” Turner-Smith asks as their waitress has delivered the wrong order, sparking a conversation about empathy for others’ mistakes and the value of doing good work.

Matsoukas is making her feature debut on “Queen & Slim,” but you know her work well. She paired with her “work soul sister” Lena Waithe, who wrote the screenplay for “Queen & Slim,” when she directed the Emmy-winning episode of “Master of None,” “Thanksgiving.” And she’s also the director behind several episodes of “Insecure” and Beyoncé music videos, including most recently the tracks “Formation” and “All Night,” and she’s also one of the credited directors on Beyoncé’s visual album “Lemonade.”

“Queen & Slim” opens in theaters Nov. 27 from Universal Pictures.

Watch the new trailer for the film above.