Hidden Figures (2016) ★★★★★
Humpo Show Rating | 8.9
IMDb Rating | 7.8
Starring: Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monáe, Kevin Costner, Kirsten Dunst, Jim Parsons, Mahershala Ali, Glen Powell
Director: Theodore Melfi
Plot Summary: The story of a team of female African-American mathematicians who served a vital role in NASA during the early years of the U.S. space program. (IMDb)
The 1960s seen the United States of America and Russia battling each other in the Space Race, and to undertake the ultimate achievement of all time, of putting a man in space. Despite NASA aiming for the stars, the men that worked in all areas of the space program held backward views concerning gender and race. Hidden Figures gives a history lesson to many people who were not aware of a group of African-American female mathematicians that served as the brains behind one of the biggest accomplishments in U.S. history.
Hidden Figures is based on the unbelievably true life stories of three women, known as “human computers”, the film follows these women as they quickly rose through the ranks of NASA where they were specifically tasked with calculating the momentous launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit, and guaranteeing his safe return. Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, and Katherine Johnson crossed all gender, race, and professional lines while their brilliance and desire to dream big, and breaking barriers and the outdated views of many inside NASA and outside of it too, firmly cemented them in U.S. history as true American heroes.
Henson, Spencer and Monáe portray the leading characters brilliantly well, Spencer was nominated for an Academy Award as a Supporting Actress, Monáe won the Hollywood Spotlight Award, Henson won the Best Hero category at the MTV Movie and TV Awards, and the cast collectively, won a Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Ensemble. Awards aside, each of them played their part with great conviction and empathy towards those exceptional individuals that deserve a place in U.S. space history, and the fact that they have gone largely unnoticed till now is a great disservice to them.
The film flows well, but the main criticisms I have with it, is that the writing team did not do enough to make the romance between Henson and Ali’s characters believable. They only have a few brief scenes together, and all of a sudden he is proposing and they are somehow in love.
But let’s not this minor drawback influence what a brilliant film this is all-round. It is an important film from so many perspectives; the civil rights perspective of the 60s- where Martin Luther King was striving for equal rights, the view of the space age from an American perspective, and finally, the female perspective- where misogyny was prominent, even within NASA.
Hidden Figures is a film that both entertains and educates. An important film, not only for those that are learning about these historic women, but for the women (and their families) themselves, to see some widespread recognition of their giant strides for women of colour to succeed in an era where success for them was extremely hard.
The Humpo Show | Richard