7/10 To be honest I wasn’t super excited to go see this film and only did so due to hearing about the Oscar hype for Cynthia Erivo in the Best Actress category. Since I try to see every Oscar nominated film every year, and her performance was nominated, I wanted to make sure I had seen this film so I could compare the performance to the other actresses in her field. She definitely earned her nomination and even though she didn’t win Best Actress (as I predicted), I am glad I saw this film. It had a fair amount of excitement and emotion and solid pacing that kept me entertained the entire time. All of the performances across the board were great but it was Leslie Odom Jr. who was the stand out for me. It is interesting that the three leads actors billed for this film are all also singers and there is some singing in the film but that was tastefully put in, not awkwardly shoehorned in. The film is very educational and I learned some interesting facts about Harriet Tubman of which I was not aware before seeing this film. I was happy that the film makers wisely decided to put information on the screen right before the ending credits, which is a good call in a fact based film. The film wisely covers a smaller amount of years in Tubman’s life, instead of trying to span her entire life and shoving her into old woman make-up at the end of the film. The best biopics tend to stick with certain time periods in a person’s life instead of biting off more than they can chew. The production design and costume design expertly recreate this time period from over 150+ years ago. There were some flaws in this film, however. The direction is pretty vanilla and bland, which makes the film not very memorable and not as energetic as it could have been. One of my biggest complaints with this is the film’s score. It has a couple nice moments but the score is so inconsistent and all over the place that it feels like four different composers all composed different sections of the film. Sometimes we get appropriately placed music, other times we get really cheesy music that feels like it was written for a made for TV movie of the week, other times something completely different. The music often took me out of the film instead of immersing me into it and it also borrows heavily from shades of other films (like “American Beauty” in parts, for example). The Oscar nominated song, “Stand Up”, is a great song, even if it isn’t the best original song in film in 2019. In the right hands, this solid script could have been further elevated but when it is all said and done, I still recommend “Harriet” to the film going public. They didn’t neuter any of the God centered aspects of the film, which I was surprised yet happy to see, you will be entertained while learning about a very important woman in American history and enjoy some grade A performances. Hop on your local underground railroad to check this film out.
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