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Harriet Review

A woman escapes slavery and returns to free and lead hundreds more through the dangerous missions of the Underground Railroad.

This was one of my most anticipated films of the year. No matter the controversy (not sure why there's any at all), I believe that this genre of film is important. Is it overdone? No because we can never get enough of our stories being told. This is an historical event, and ten, twenty, thirty, or even a hundred years from now; I still want to see pivotal African American events on screen. Even if it's hard to watch.

I do not know any film solemnly centered around the heroic abolitionist Harriet Tubman. I am beyond elated to have a film of this caliber in 2019. Her story is impeccable, and in this film we finally get to see the journey that led her to free over three-hundred slaves. The film is exhilarating, emotional, and informative. As an individual not too fond of Kasi Lemmons work as a director, this just might be her best film to date. 

"Harriet" knows what kind of film it is. If your are looking for a film that shows the brutal conditions of slavery then you're in the wrong place. Go watch "12 Years A Slave" or "Birth of A Nation". This is a far more personal approach to how one woman was owed freedom and was never honored her dues so she took it. Yes, we still see the cruelty of slavery, but it is far less gruesome than I expected. This is a film based on the relationship between a woman and God and how her faith became the ultimate weapon. Kasi implemented this portion of the film so beautifully and I promise the impact is through the roof. At times, this film takes you to church, and the word couldn't be more effective to the story. 

The contrast between Blacks is also masterfully portrayed. Many believe that because we encountered slavery as one race, we were all on one page. That was never the case. For one, the North and South living conditions were like oil and water. We almost never crossed paths because at one point, some of us were free and others were not. The film picks up here in 1849, and while it's no spoiler that Harriet gains her freedom, she insists to not relish this accomplishment alone. However, not everyone is down for the cause. I was afraid that this notion was going to be over dramatic or quite frank, inaccurate, but it was very well done. 

Although, I enjoyed the film in it's entirety, some plot holes slightly ruined the experience. Harriet has these "visions" that are sort of an alternative reality and it was a bit odd. I don't think it added anything to the story and overall it was visually ill-fitting. Another issue was her interaction with Whites in the first act of the movie. Without any spoilers, let's just say some things were not historically accurate either.  Cynthia Erivo is fantastic in this film. Since her Tony award in the "The Color Purple", I knew she was the perfect choice. She does not disappoint. She's inspirational, emotional, and badass when she needs to be. She fully inherits the motives of Harriet Tubman and truly carried this movie forward. Janelle Monae is also a standout in the few scenes that she's in. Overall the casting was exceptional. This film also has an outstanding score. There are a lot of moments that some may find comedic (more than a few times I died laughing) and others may find dramatic, but the music always tells you how to feel. That's the beauty of a good score. Sooner than later, I am sure that I will find myself downloading a few tracks.  In all, everyone should see this film.

We needed this, and we didn't even know it.


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