Director: Theodore Melfi
Writer: Allison Schroeder, Theodore Melfi
Based on: Margot Lee Shetterly‘s book Hidden Figures: The Story of the African-American Women Who Helped Win the Space Race
Cast: Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monáe, Kevin Costner, Kirsten Dunst, Jim Parsons, Mahershala Ali, Aldis Hodge, Glen Powell
Seen on: 6.2.2017
NASA is working hard to send their first man into space – and especially to bring him back again. But they haven’t yet cracked the orbit needed for that. Working as computers, the black women Katherine Goble (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe) are far removed from the action, both figuratively and literally. But when the Soviets make quick advances and pressure rises, Katherine’s mathematic skills bring her right into the heart of the team. But racism isn’t all that easily overcome by maths.
Hidden Figures was entertaining, charming and incredibly enjoyable. It was almost too smooth – I was missing a bit of anger. But that’s only a teeny tiny complaint about a film I very much loved.
Hidden Figures pretty much has it all. It definitely has great characters – I couldn’t tell you who of the three central women I loved more. And they were all so wonderful together with their very distinct personalities in great friendship, which was simply lovely. And Henson, Monáe and Spencer gave pitch-perfect performances. It’s hard to imagine that they may not be best friends outside of the film (maybe they are, I don’t know). But also the supporting cast were wonderful, particularly Mahershala Ali and Aldis Hodge.
The film moves along at a perfect pace as well, choosing the right moments to be emotional and the right moments to be very funny indeed. There isn’t one second where I thought it was unnecessary for it to be in the film to tell the story it tells.
But there was a good part of the story devoted to appeasing the white people. For one, there was Al Harrison’s (Kevin Costner) freak-out where he demolishes a “white’s only” sign that seemed to have been there purely to show that #notallwhitepeople were assholes. And then generally, while there was a sense of racial unease that permeated the film, I thought that a lot ot the feeling of injustice and anger and hurt that segregation and racism must provoke got lost in the polished and quick storytelling. The film does transport it in a couple of moments, but it felt a little tame.
But this really is only one minor thing that I felt could have been stronger in a really great film that I absolutely enjoyed and that tells an important story about people who had to fight very hard for the chances and the recognition they deserve.