Hidden Figures – ★ ★ ★ ★ DVD Review

Hidden Figures40

Hidden Figures is another “real life story” movie, this time based on the true story of the African American women working at NASA in the 1960s working to put the first American into space.  The movie focuses on three women, Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson) a mathematician, Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) a supervisor, and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe) an engineer and their struggles to get by in the segregated world of the southern United States.  Following a successful Russian satellite launch, pressure to send American astronauts into space increased. When the Space Task Group needed another “computer”, Katherine was assigned by her supervisor, Vivian Mitchel (Kirsten Dunst), where she worked under Al Harrison (Kevin Costner) and his team.  She becomes the first African-American woman in the team.  We follow the paths of these three women as they advance in their lives and in their careers.

Okay, I really enjoyed this one, and it was one that I had hoped to catch before the Oscars.  It was nominated for Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay and Spencer was nominated for Best Supporting Actress.  The subject matter fascinated me, because I love space stuff.  I’ve got books about it, and newspaper clippings that my grandmother saved for me from the space race and the moon landing.  This was a look behind the scenes to see how it all happened, and I loved that.  Seeing the race and gender barriers slowly being broken down was great too.  This was NASA, and they were there for science, they were there to put someone into space.  They weren’t there to be racist or sexist, the mission was what mattered.  Or at least that’s how it was supposed to be, and for the most part it was, but the movie showed that there was racism and sexism.  Jim Parsons’ character was obviously threatened when a woman excelled at a problem he was trying to solve.  Kirsten Dunst’s character was more racist than she believed she was.  Eventually though, through strong leadership, those feelings were put aside in favour of the greater good of the job.  Kevin Costner as Al Harrison really brought that feeling to life. When he questions why Katherine is absent from her desk so often and for so long, he is furious to find out it’s because she has to run half a mile away to use the toilet as the only bathrooms in their building are “white only”.  The next scene where he breaks down the bathroom sign with a crowbar declaring  “here at NASA, we all pee the same colour” was great.  The speech that Taraji Henson gave about the bathrooms was equally memorable, even if it was maybe exaggerated for the screen.  That aside, you really did love when Johnson repeatedly showed herself to be the smartest person in the room at every turn.

My only complaint with the film was that I thought it spent too much time telling me about the personal lives of the three ladies, which I personally didn’t find that interesting.  I know I will never “know” what it is like to be an African American woman in the 1960s and I understand that these looks at their lives personalizes the characters and humanizes them and brings home the racism and the sexism, but I didn’t want to see them going to church or picnics or dating or putting their children to bed or finding a boyfriend.  I’ve seen that before in movies, I haven’t seen all the space stuff.  I wanted to see them calculating re-entry trajectories, building heat shields and putting rockets into orbit!

Bottom Line: Really a great film, and I don’t want to make light of the issues they dealt with, I just thought as a movie it ran a little long and a little slow at times.


Posted on 17-05-30, in 4 Star, Movie Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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