“HARRIET” – 9.5
In a word: Powerful
A month ago, I wrote a movie review of “Judy” that began like this:
“I can see it coming …“And the Oscar goes to – Renee’ Zellweger”…
Now I say, Whoa, not so fast. I hadn’t yet seen “Harriet.”
It will be a tight Oscar race for best actress because a lesser known, 32 year-old British actress named Cynthia Erivo has given the movie industry one of the greatest female performances ever.
The “Harriet” in this movie centers on a slave woman known in her earliest years as “Minty” who later changes her name to Harriet Tubman, a woman of unbridled courage and tenacity in the pre-civil war era in which she was responsible for hundreds of slaves being rescued and brought to freedom in the north, and later to Canada, while under the most hazardous of conditions. She had escaped from the hands of her slaveholders in 1849 Maryland at great risk and steadily became a fearless, storied conductor on the Underground Railroad until the Civil War was over.
This is not just a “slave era” movie in which the audience witnesses endless whippings and beatings, and heart-breaking plots of about the bane of enslavement. This picture not only brought out the physical horrors, but powerful emotional episodes that could bring the viewer to tears, as man’s inhumanity to man is personified in the script and in the superb acting by all the case, not only Erivo. Kasi Lemmons, previously unknown to me, should also be nominated for best director and/or co-writer. Ms. Lemmons has an extensive history dating back to 1989 as actress, writer and director.
Were there a few “gotchas” on the implausible scale, or stretching of the facts? Probably. A story this huge cannot be told in a two-hour time slot without some clever artistry. No reason to get nit-picky here as the movie brings to light the essence of the era, and the well-deserved personification of a hero, like none other. Ms. Tubman’s image deserves to be enshrined on American currency, as has been proposed for the 20 dollar bill sometime down the road.
About half the audience – blacks and whites — in the movie house broke into applause as the credits started to roll. That’s a rarity
…And the Oscar goes to: Renee’…uhhh…Cynthia…uhhh Renee’… Cynth….Ahhh…what the heck….it’s a TIE!…
I know others disagree, but I definitely think this film deserves a 9.5 rating.
Here’s a more detailed review of the movie by Roger Ebert, who gives it 4 out of 5 stars.