“Harriet” (Focus)

Cynthia Erivo stars in a scene from the movie "Harriet." The Catholic News Service classification is A-III -- adults. (CNS/Focus Features)

By Catholic News Service

Long-overdue but flawed drama chronicling the exploits of the most famous conductor on the Underground Railroad, Maryland-born Harriet Tubman (Cynthia Erivo).

When her owner (Mike Marunde) dies suddenly and his son (Joe Alwyn) threatens to sell her South, she successfully escapes. Connecting with other abolitionists (including Leslie Odom Jr. and Janelle Monae), she takes numerous trips back across the Pennsylvania border hoping to liberate her family and others.

Director and co-writer Kasi Lemmons’ film, which also features Zackary Momoh as Tubman’s husband, celebrates life and reminds audiences of the price some of our forebears had to pay for the freedoms we enjoy. And Erivo, a veteran of the London stage, breathes spirit and pathos into the titular character. Yet the pace lags and the tense moments that could have made this portrayal worthy of its heroic subject are mostly absent, though the script, on which Lemmons collaborated with Gregory Allen Howard, does pay due attention to Tubman’s deep religious faith.

Probably acceptable for teens. Racial slurs and a few crude and crass terms. The Catholic New Service classification is A-III — adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 — parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

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