Hidden Figures is one of those movies that I really wanted to see when it made it’s theatrical debut, but for some reason, I never managed to make it to the movie theatre while it was playing. Last weekend I finally managed to get my hands on a copy of the DVD and settled onto the couch to watch.
The movie follows the professional lives of three black women who played key roles in sending the first man into space.
Oren Loni’s Thoughts on the Hidden Figures Storyline
True to life movies such as Hidden Figures is tricky. They serve an important purpose in that they help shine a light on moments that history has forgotten, or neglected to mention at all. This movie did an excellent job of ensuring that three women finally got the credit they richly deserved. I loved the fact that all three women were scientists, something I feel is important to showcase in this day and age when so many young women are afraid that, because they’re girls, they won’t succeed in a scientific field even though they have the aptitude for it.
The problem with movies like Hidden Figures is that it’s difficult to create a movie that’s both historically accurate and engaging. I feel Hidden Figures did manage to do this. That being said, I’m sure there are some moments that weren’t completely accurate, and there are certainly a few times during the movie when I felt my attention starting to wander.
Although the movie focuses primarily on the women’s professional lives working for NASA, there are small cutaway moments that provide the viewer with a brief glimpse into their personal lives. Normally, these would have irritated me since they were filler scenes, in the case of Hidden Figures, I think the small slice of life scenes did a nice job of showcasing just how much each character struggled to find a balance between life and career, something each of us continues to struggle with in today’s world.
My biggest quibble with Hidden Figures storyline is that even though the marketing material and blurb indicate that the movie will follow all three characters, and it kind of does, the bulk of the film time was on the character of Katherine Johnson (played by Taraji P. Henson) while little time was dedicated to the characters of Dorthey and Mary.
Oren Loni’s Thoughts on the Acting
It’s my opinion that every single one of the actors in Hidden Figures brought their A-game to the set. I didn’t for one second believe that they didn’t know their characters inside out, or that they didn’t believe in the project one hundred percent.
Octavia Spencer who portrayed computer whiz, Dorthey Vaughn, is a rare jewel, the kind of actress who lights up the camera simply by standing still. Every time she appeared on my screen, the movie seemed to shine a little bit more.
Kevin Costner really surprised me in this film. He’s always a great actor, but in Hidden Figures there were times when I forgot I was watching a Costner performance and found myself thinking he was Tom Hanks. He should play a slightly distracted, brilliant scientist more often.
Seeing Jim Parsons in a role that was quite similar to but not quite the same as Sheldon Cooper has me itching to see him cast as a character with absolutely no connection to science. Playing Paul Stafford provided him with an opportunity to provide a more nuanced performance.
Taraji P. Henson did an excellent job creating a character that was both warm and immensely enjoyable, but who dealt with a great deal of inner stress and frustration. In my opinion, it was an epic performance. In every single scene, I got the sense of a character who was suppressing rage at the way she was treated based solely on her color, while also trying to play the role society placed her in. I felt she was especially powerful in the scene where she finally loses her cool and lets everyone know about the hardship she faces each time she needs to use the restroom.
While I quite enjoyed Janelle Monáe’s portrayal of Mary Jackson, the script simply didn’t provide her with enough material to really get the sense of her acting, which is too bad because I think she could have done wonderful things with her character.
Oren Loni’s Final Thoughts on Hidden Figures
When I started watching Hidden Figures I thought it was going to be a movie about civil rights, and while that’s certainly a sub-plot, the movie is really about three intelligent, powerful women struggling to get the recognition they deserve.
I loved watching Hidden Figures but I must admit, it probably won’t be a movie I watch over and over again. I think that after a few viewings the movie will lose its magic and become a little dull. I prefer to remember it as a bright shining jewel.