Harriet Review

I saw Harriet the other night, and it’s stuck with me.

I am one of many in my generation who call upon Harriet as a chosen ancestor. I believe our political lineages set the standards for the kind of humans we want to be – between Harriet, Octavia and Audre, my standards are impossibly high, and I welcome the humility that comes from feeling nowhere close to them but still hungry and still trying.

The movie aims for epic, and while it doesn’t quite land there, there’s a lot of good here. Where it falls short, it feels like Hollywood often does – aiming for big emotions without the emotional foreplay to earn them, even if the component parts are all there. But it covers the familiar territory, the pieces we know. It’s not a documentary, though.

I particularly hope it reaches young people unfamiliar with her story. I specifically hope it gets them curious enough to then go read and learn about her story.

I want white people and people of privilege to see this movie and think: how am I complicit in current harms? how am I actually protecting black and other persecuted people right now?

I want viewers to notice how radical the commitment to the dangerous and mundane work of revolutionary solidarity is.

I want men to watch it and be more aware of the cost of their patriarchal doubt.

And I want witches and other intuitives to watch it and celebrate being led by divine forces beyond our own minds – whenever our species is regressing and inhumane, it is necessary to call in and trust other guides. She had to move against the collective assumption of what was possible, again and again. That’s important in collective work – someone has to see beyond what is and get others to dream, and risk what is for what could be.

Release perfection with this one, but see it. Harriet was and is unmatched. See it because she deserves to be the star, the focus, a singular name, the superhero of children’s dreams, then and now.