Hidden Figures

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Hidden Figures is the true story of three African-American women who were employed by NASA during the early sixties during the time period when the space race with the Russians was in full swing and when segregation of whites and blacks was a typical thing.

Hidden Figures tells the story of Katherine (Taraji Hanson), Mary (Janelle Monáe) and Dorothy (Octavia Spencer) and their lives as remarkably intelligent black women in Virginia.  They faced the expected racial and sexist challenges as you would expect for the country at the time, yet each of them, with their intelligence and their charisma, were able to continue to advance in their professions.

In fact, the film tells us this true story of how much these women contributed to the launching and successful return of astronaut John Glenn from his orbiting of the earth.

All three of the ladies involved gave us remarkable performances, especially Octavia Spencer, who I enjoyed every time she was on screen as the under appreciated employee who wanted but would not be receiving a well-deserved promotion to supervisor.  Taraji Hanson (from Empire on FOX) was the de facto lead of the group as she was the character front and center in NASA as a woman who was genius with mathematics and numbers.  Janelle Monáe’s character was attempting to become an engineer, and had to attend classes at a segregated high school to accomplish that goal.

We had other pretty solid performances in Hidden Figures as well, especially Kevin Costner as Al Harrison, Katherine’s boss at NASA who was just trying to get the work done.  Costner had some really strong scenes throughout the film that stand out from the rest.

There is a lot about each woman’s home life which helped flesh these characters out, but the NASA material is so spot on that the rest of the film feels a little underwhelming.  Not bad, just not as great as the work stuff.

This film does a wonderful job of showing the way the world was at this time in American history.  It made you wonder some times how we as a nation were ever allowed to have the blatant racism of segregation be a part of our world.  It was inspiring how these three women found their way through the quagmire of the racism and sexism to contribute so mightily to our space program.

There were many scenes of levity and moments that were touching.  This was a well rounded biopic of a story that I did not know about.  It is awesome to think that there are these kind of stories out there to be told.  It was told with so much heart and positive energy that it was very easy to root for our heroes.  I’m glad I was able to see this.

4 stars

 

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