Monday, January 9, 2017

[Review] Hidden Figures

"We all get there together, or we don't get there at all."

Based on an unheralded true story, Hidden Figures is a crowd-pleasing biopic that aims for the stars.

It's set in 1961 Virginia amidst segregation, the Cold War freeze, and the so-called "Space Race" between the US and the Soviet Union. The plot revolves around three African American women--Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer), and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe)--who played significant roles as brilliant mathematicians and engineers in NASA's innovative operations for achieving liftoff, all while facing obstacles of racism and sexism.

It comes as no surprise that the cast fantastic here. Taraji P. Henson greatly occupies the central story and carries a lot of the emotional heft, while Octavia Spencer is consistently graceful and nuanced. But my personal favorite is Janelle Monáe's character with her infinite swagger, bold line deliveries, and spunky sense of humor. As far as the supporting cast goes, Kevin Costner solidly clocks in to administer instructions and deliver a couple motivational speeches, like he does best. And if you've ever wanted to slap Sheldon from "The Big Bang Theory", just wait 'til you see his role in this as an annoyingly spiteful and prejudiced (but well-played) co-worker.

The presentation of the narrative and tone is a bit *ahem* by-the-numbers in that glossy Disney-ish sort of way (but it works), and the film can be slightly repetitive at times (there's a lot of writing on chalkboards and discussions about equations that are lightyears beyond my math skills). However, it's still a pleasant, admirable, and inspiring viewing that's full of heartwarming moments on large and small scales. And the social themes very much still resonate today.

Hidden Figures is a film of breaking down barriers, celebrating monumental Firsts, and living the "impossible". It honors under-appreciated work and little-known stories that deserve to be told--all in the name of progress.

* 8.5/10 *

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1 comment:

  1. Nice review! I agree, the narrative is Disney-straight forward, but I enjoyed this movie a lot too. The performances were incredible and really helped the film stand out.