‘Harriet’ Review: A Bland Biopic That Offers No Insight into an American Hero | TIFF 2019

Collider | 9/11/2019 | Matt Goldberg
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If you’re looking for a movie that offers a deeper view on the life of Harriet Tubman and her accomplishments, you’ll be sorely disappointed by Kasi Lemmons’ rote biopic Harriet. Tubman, who you most likely learned about in 4th or 5th grade, was a slave who escaped to the North and then become a powerful abolitionist and liberator, returning south multiple times to free more slaves. All that Harriet adds to this knowledge is that Tubman would get spells and visions of the future from God. This religious aspect is never probed with any curiosity or critique. It basically becomes a superpower that Tubman has, and while it’s fine to put Tubman in a mythic light, the film is too flat to render her supernatural. Harriet is a period movie where the protagonist occasionally gets visions that aid her in her duties. But there’s almost no insight into Tubman’s personality, her world, or her actions beyond what you probably already know.

Beginning in 1849, we meet “Minty” (Cynthia Erivo), a slave in Maryland whose master won’t agree to her freedom despite legal documents that would allow her to be freed. After the death of her master and now under the eye of his cruel son Gideon (Joe Alwyn) Minty resolves to run away to the north with her husband, but, not wanting to risk his freedom if he’s caught, makes the journey alone. When she arrives in Philadelphia, she meets with abolitionist William Still (Leslie Odom Jr.) and takes the new name “Harriet Tubman”. After spending a year working in Philadelphia, Harriet longs to be reunited with her husband and family, so she takes it upon herself to free them and bring them north.

Lemmons - Moses - Aspect - Harriet - Story

It appears that Lemmons wants to lean into the “Moses” aspect of Harriet’s story, going by the nickname...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Collider
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