Hidden Figures Movie Review
It’s Trump’s world now, which makes it all the more wonderful that one of the more enjoyable movies of the year is about three intelligent black woman who rise through the ranks at the predominantly white and male NASA in the 1960’s. Hidden Figures stars Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monáe—oh, and less-black Kevin Costner and Kirsten Dunst.
The delightful drama deftly tackles race relations and showcases the achievements of three amazing women while keeping things lighthearted and entertaining, Hidden Figures is arguably the feel-good drama of the year, one that tells a powerful story and features strong performances but stay clear of heavy, depressing material.
The downside, of course, is that Hidden Figures isn’t heavy. Director Theodore Melfi utilizes a bright palette and the emotional tone is equally light; the consequence is that you won’t walk away saying, “Wow, what an incredible drama.” The movie follows the typical underdog-breaks-the-rules-and-wins-people-over-through-sheer-will story arc, and most of the conflict is of the you-know-it-will-work-out-in-the-end variety.
The movie also suffers a bit when it focuses on the women’s personal lives—a subplot involving a blossoming relationship between Henson and Mahershala Ali is fine, but takes away from the more important and interesting stuff—namely, the woman working at NASA.
None of those limitations interfere with the film’s entertainment value; they just keep the film from being taken more seriously. The movie is elevated by its cast, with Henson and Spencer delivering exceptionally strong performances. Hidden Figures is consistently entertaining and a real crowd-pleaser, even if it never breaks into the stratosphere.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.