review by Drusilla Blakey
There are so many amazing stories throughout history and it is always great to see when one most people have never even heard about gets to be the focus of a feature film. The latest is Hidden Figures starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monáe, Kevin Costner, Kirsten Dunst, Jim Parsons, Mahershala Ali, Aldis Hodge, and Glen Powell from director Theodore Melfi, but does it do these woman's story justice or will it fail to get it of the ground?
The film follows the incredible untold story of Katherine G. Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson, brilliant African-American women working at NASA, who served as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in history: the launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit, a stunning achievement that restored the nation’s confidence, turned around the Space Race, and galvanized the world. The visionary trio crossed all gender and race lines to inspire generations to dream big.
Taraji P. Henson gives an amazing performance as mathematician Katherine Johnson. Often the smartest person in the room, she was looked down upon by the ‘nice people’ at NASA because during her time there, segregation was still the norm. Ms. Henson does a great job bringing us into that world and time period and through her performance allows us to feel the sadness and hurt that this caused her on a day to day basis. There were several times in the movie that I was shocked and taken aback by the things people would say or do to her! But this woman overcame so much with such dignity and poise; and over the course of the movie we see how pivotal she became to the space launch that it left me with a feeling of pride and brought me to tears.
Octavia Spencer’s character has her own struggle with inequality in the film and as we follow her story we get another amazing glimpse into history as she learns the ins and out of the first IBM computer! Her character’s take on things is more comical and often times, I found myself laughing at how she would handle and treat the racism she faced. She also brought me to tears, but in a happy way. And again, I felt an overwhelming sense of pride and satisfaction in the work she had done as if I had been there.
Janelle Monáe is struggling to become an accredited engineer. She knows the math, the physics and has practical experience from her time at NASA but again, stupid segregation rears its ugly head as she’s not allowed to attend college courses because it’s for “white men only”. Her performance was also moving as I went down the journey with her of her anger and her fight to make things right. Her story make me feel strong and empowered!
Aside from the performances, the costumes and sets were amazing. Great care was put in recreating this fashionable time in our history. Down to the little hats and gloves the ladies wore, it was all there. The houses, furniture, cars, etc. is a feast for the eyes. Overall, the movie did what I believe all movies should do – it moved me! I felt like I was on the journey with each one of these ladies. I felt what they felt, I cried when they cried, I laughed when they laughed. Plus, I was able to learn about some very important and pivotal points in American history. And to top it off, the movie had a proper ending letting us know about the real people portrayed in the film. 100 points for this film; it is a definite must see!