Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Harriet, 2019 - ★★★½

A deep dive into the accomplishments of the legendary navigator of the underground railroad, this film is a solid reenactment of the slave-freeing movement. The acting across the board is servicable but the spotlight shines brightly on Cynthia Erivo playing the title role of Harriet Tubman. I first noticed Erivo in Bad Times at the El Royale in which she stood out as a future star. She's one Oscar short of an EGOT and may come close to grabbing it this year. I expect her to be nominated for Best Actress for this bold turn as Tubman. She does a great job of conveying fear and confidence at the same time. You really can't take your eyes off her when she's on-screen.

Director Kasi Lemmons paints a vivid picture of the pre-civil war East Coast with desolated and isolated farm houses and small villages that set the stage for the Underground Railroad. The plight of Tubman's repeated treks across this landscape is heightened by the tense relationship between her and her former slave owner (Joe Alwyn).

Overall I liked but didn't love this film. I feel it didn't have the soul or passion of previous slavery films like Glory or 12 Years a Slave. That being said, this is still worth a watch if only for Erivo's excellent performance.

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