Starring Octavia Spencer, Taraji P. Henson, and Janelle Monáe, Hidden Figures is a delightful film about three African-American women working at NASA during the Space Race that changed the world. This gives spotlight to the intelligent women in a field flooded by white men.
This is an ultimate feel good film with spectacular performances by Henson, Spencer, and Monáe. It is empowering and heart-warming. The three actresses did not fail in delivering such raw performances. Henson’s portrayal of Katherine Johnson from a shy employee to the assertive one is beautiful. It was subtle and yet it is easy to pinpoint the moments when Johnson was done accepting the negativity in her life and actually started doing something about it. Spencer, as expected, also did a great job as Dorothy Vaughan. Although it is her typical type-cast in which her character is bossy and always almost angry, it was still a joy watching her perform as Vaughan. Lastly, Monáe caught me by surprise. Charming and yet powerful, she gives life to Mary Jackson and she did it beautifully. Her presence is wonderful, powerful, and she does this even without saying a word. Overall, these three women deserve all the attention they are getting because of this film. They really poured their heart and soul in their roles and this reflects their performances.
Having multiple characters and perspectives usually create a huge mess in the film but Theodore Melfi did a good job in directing the flow of the story. This kind of narrative did have some problems along the way. It is difficult to show three lives in just a short period of time and Hidden Figures was not an exception to this problem. When the three women started going their separate ways, their friendship got blurred in the background. Although that was not the main focus of the film, it was sad that it felt like they just left that aspect of the story up in the air. Yes, there were moments and scenes were they would get together but they just left the friendship element hanging.
The pacing also suffered because of the multiple lives that this film is tackling. Some scenes were just too short and seemed out of place. I get that Katherine Johnson (Henson) is the main character and that her personal life is there to make her more human and relatable but with the main theme and message of the film, her personal life felt unnecessary. The film and her character would develop even without those scenes.
Though the pacing might be off during some scenes, it is still a great film. This is a B-film with a heart. It is a great experience to follow the journey of these three women who tried, and succeeded, to change how people see the African-Americans during their time. The way they asserted and reached for the impossible is beautiful and inspiring. This sets out the message that never stop reaching for your dreams, no matter how impossible they may sound.
Hidden Figures is a great story about the unknown lives, struggles, and achievements of African-American women during the Space Race. Admittedly, this kind of problem, discrimination and inequality, is still rampant in today’s society. We still have a lot to go through. We still have a long way to go but the important thing is, we should not be stagnant. We should not rest until inequality has been diminished with nothing but acceptance and open-mindedness.