With few shocks and surprises, the piece merely becomes a plod to the finish, as it tells its story in too many motifs, rather than focusing on showing how impressive Harriet’s achievements actually were
Driven entirely by a stellar performance from Cynthia Erivo, Harriet is the tale of Minty, the most successful mission leader in the history of The Underground Railroad. Utilising a series of sequences loose in its structure, Harriet doesn’t always get it is message across fast enough, but when it does, Erivo hits home wonderfully well.
Emotional and moving, the film tracks her life as she escapes a life of slavery in 1840’s America, only to return years later helping her family escape the same dire situation.
Desperate to help as many people as possible, Harriet moved all across the country quickly, aiding anyone she could to escape the same sinister position she was once enslaved within.
Lacking a sense of fluidity, Harriet relies far too heavily on Erivo to supply both the drama and the passion, becoming a lacklustre and overtly stretched set of subplots. The piece uses her prowess well, but it doesn’t realise how well it’s done, leaving the rest of the film flagging in her wake. With few shocks and surprises, the piece merely becomes a plod to the finish, as it tells its story in too many motifs, rather than focusing on showing how impressive Harriet’s achievements actually were.
Offering its muddled views all too easily, Harriet doesn’t strike the chord it needed to in order to become the affecting piece it wanted to be. Edit it and cut it, and there’s a genuinely powerful film within these boundaries, but as it stands, Harriet is a shell of what it truly deserved to be.
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