In Earnest, Contrived Biopic 'Harriet,' Tubman Is An Action Hero

Cynthia Erivo is quite good, and the story of Harriet Tubman is a tale worth telling, but as presented here it's earnest, conventional and "fundamentally inert."
Cynthia Erivo (left) stars as Harriet Tubman along with Aria Brooks (right). Source: Glen Wilson

Unless and until Harriet Tubman assumes her place on the $20 bill, writer-director Kasi Lemmons' Harriet will have to serve as the anti-slavery heroine's national monument. It will do so reasonably well. Like most monuments, the biopic is somber, well-intentioned, and fundamentally inert. But British actress Cynthia Erivo, in the title role, animates it.

The story opens blandly with

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