Hidden Figures is the new drama film directed by Theodore Melfi, depicting the careers of female Black mathematicians working for NASA in the sixties. Hidden Figures focus on three of these women specifically, Mary Jackson (Janelle Manáe), Dorothy Vaughn (Octavia Spencer), and Katherine Globe (Taraji Henson). The story focuses mostly on Katherine, as she attempts to overcome the prejudice of her coworkers and help send John Glenn into orbit on the Friendship 7 space mission.
I went in to Hidden Figures expecting it to be beat for beat your typical Hollywood drama. To my pleasant surprise, it deviated (at least a little) from the formula. There were scenes in the film that went places I didn’t expect. For example, I had the prediction that every character that these women came across would treat them in the same discriminatory way. I was very far off, as many characters surprisingly treated Jackson, Vaughn, and Globe with respect. Not that the filmmakers had to portray the characters this way, but I felt it was a nice touch that went well with the tone. Small aspects of Hidden Figures like this that caught me off guard far outweighed the overly predictable moments.
The performances in Hidden Figures were all very compelling and entertaining, especially the three leading ladies of the film. They each deliver their lines in cheeky and witty ways, adding a lot of fun to some quite possibly underwritten characters. I could tell they were really having fun with these roles. Jim Parsons and Kevin Costner (two characters who also work for NASA) also do great jobs in their respective roles.
The theme of racial prejudice is a common and topical subject, and it seems every film has its own way of dealing with it. Hidden Figures deals with prejudice in a more calm and subdued manner than many of its counterparts. It delivers an anti-prejudice message in a more child friendly way, keeping with its feel-good drama tone. People who like strong racial messages in films will love Hidden Figures.
My one nitpick for the film would be the climax of the film. While it was entertaining, I didn’t feel like a lot was on the line. The most intense scene of the film didn’t even include any of our main cast. Also, while we did have satisfying endings for most of the protagonists, it felt like the conclusion for Mary Jackson wasn’t there. We saw her go back to school so that she could continue working with NASA, but didn’t get much satisfying resolve with this. These are of course only minor problems, as Hidden Figures is a great film with a lot of heart.
Hidden Figures was exactly the kind of feel-good drama I wanted to see. In even its heavier moments, Hidden Figures still maintained a relatively light tone to get its message across to people of all ages. The performances, themes, and easy going tone make for one enjoyable film experience.
The Verdict: A-