Review - Hidden Figures
pepper - march 17
DIRECTED BY THEODORE MELFI
, Hidden Figures is the heartwarming true story of NASA’s brilliant African-American female mathematicians, integral to the operations that sent astronaut John Glenn into orbit and turned around the Space Race while inspiring a nation by defying definition and seeing beyond segregation.
While Hidden Figures didn’t win at the Academy Awards, it’s enjoyed massive success at the box office and looks likely to become the biggest-grossing movie fronted by an African-American female ever, outgrossing The Help and Sister Act.
This should come as no surprise because the film, based on Margot Lee Shatterly’s detailed book, is truly inspiring, reinforcing to all ages that with passion, tenacity and hard work, any of us can accomplish anything.
Kevin Costner puts in a solid performance as Al Harrison (a role written to combine three real-life NASA employees), the man who opens NASA’s doors and welcomes all minds to the table, regardless of the colour of the skin they are in, and Jim Parsons and Kirsten Dunst, in pivotal (fictional) roles, embody the era’s common attitudes towards “coloreds”.
But it’s the African-American women who shine.
Katherine G. Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe), reminiscent in this performance of Whitney Houston in The Bodyguard, are just delightful, utterly convincing in their portrayal of the women, and their vulnerability, strength and determination in the face of discrimination in the sixties, gingerly stepping across gender and race lines to achieve their dreams.
Highlighting this is a scene in which Mary Jackson is asked whether or not she would want to be an engineer if she was a white man.
She replies, “I wouldn’t have to. I would already be one.”
Another poignant moment is when a woman, presumably the beloved Cecilia “Cece" Bibby, is seen painting the Friendship 7 logo on the side of the spacecraft, having been granted access to the launch platform on John Glenn’s insistence that the capsule artist be allowed to complete her work.
It’s this sort of attention to detail that makes Hidden Figures not only a vital historical biopic, but also an extra special treat.
Most importantly, it’s a reminder that if we can continue to look beyond race and gender, free will and brilliant minds are all around us.