‘Harriet’ Review: Cynthia Erivo Elevates Formulaic Harriet Tubman Biopic

The legacy of Harriet Tubman has persisted for generations, but not counting an NBC miniseries starring Cicely Tyson that aired over 40 years ago, her story hasn’t received the movie treatment it deserves. That changes with “Harriet,” director Kasi Lemmons’ reverential look at the first stages of Tubman’s dramatic life, when she escaped a plantation and became a key organizer of the Underground Railroad.

“Harriet” doesn’t attempt to reinvent the biopic, relying instead on a poignant turn by rising screen talent Cynthia Erivo (“Widows”) as its soulful centerpiece, against the gorgeous backdrop of John Toll’s cinematography and Terence Blanchard’s euphoric score. that makes up for missed time.

Harriet” is essentially an origin story: The script, credited to Lemmons and Gregory Allan Howard (“Remember the Titans”), follows erstwhile Araminta “Minty” Ross through her daring escape from a Maryland plantation in the early 1840s, after her possessive owner
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