This review was written by Anthony J Digioia. Follow him and his website here for more awesome reviews: SilverScreen Analysis
“HIDDEN FIGURES” is directed by Theodore Melfi and stars; Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monáe, Kevin Costner and Jim Parsons.
This one follows the true story of three African-American women working at NASA during the height of the space race with Russia in the late 60’s. These women had brilliant minds, but they were women in the 60’s, and women of color, two obstacles that greatly hindered their deserved advancement.
This story captures how these amazing women would not be held down, and that they were determined to go as far as their intelligence would take them regardless of their race or sex. Despite all the odds against them, their perseverance would not waver. And in the end all three of them were extremely vital to the success of the U.S. putting a man on the moon.
In my opinion one of the most incredible things about watching movies is when you go in, excited to see a film, hoping it will be great, and in the end that film is better than you expected. That was the case for me with “Hidden Figures”.
I assumed it would be good. Octavia Spencer and Kevin Costner are first-class talents and Taraji P. Henson is more than a capable actress in her own right. I expected their performances all to shine in this story. I even expected the story to be a compelling one. But I was curious how the tone of the film would result.
There are some great biopics out there that are filled with great performances, well-crafted film-making, and impactful stories. But they can often be a little melancholy and too emotionally fatiguing for most people to ever have the desire to re-watch them.
This story introduces a trio of strong, intelligent female role-models, who went through an extraordinary life. And this film tells their story with a smooth balance of social relevance, dramatic undertones, and a lighthearted feel at times, to make this story highly re-watchable.
I am not saying the film makes light of their ordeal, but the tone of the film comes directly from their sarcastic, confident and hard-headed personalities, towards the obstructions in their way. They let the issue be known, they face their problems head on, never want to play the victim, and yet despite all the adversity they still have their charm, and energy.
It was subtle, but this film could have gone heavy handed in to the drama region but it didn’t, and it never cost the message of the film of any impact at all, but only amplified it in my opinion. The flow of the story perfectly captured the inspiration that these women molded with their actions. And it does so with a mix of powerfully dramatic scenes one minute, and comical ones the next, that make you want to see more of their lives.
I thought there was a nice balance between their personal lives and the events that took place inside NASA. The scenes revolving around the space race were the most compelling and it was nice to see them focus on that.
Also, it must be said the performances were all fantastic. Henson comes in and delivers her finest performance. Octavia Spencer was just as great as I hoped she would be, and Janelle Monáe shines with an awesome performance as well. They all had a fantastic chemistry with one another and delivered all the range of emotions needed to pull the roles off effectively.
Overall, this was a well-crafted, uplifting story that tells itself in an inspirational way, and doesn’t over focus on the mellow-dramatics like it easily could have. Resulting in a fin, inspirational film that boasts a very important message.
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