by Manuel Reynoso 4 palm trees out of 4
Directed by Theodore Melfi, and adapted to screenplay by Theodore Melfi and Allison Schroeder. Starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monáe, And Kevin Costner. Based on the non-fiction book by Margot Lee Shetterly.
The spectacle of the space race has been celebrated time and time again over the decades. NASA’s triumph against the big bad soviets is no stranger to media portrayal. However, despite all the coverage, all the national pride, and all the high school lectures, three black women remain largely uncelebrated in the eyes of the general public.
Hidden figures is a biopic that brings to light the pivotal roles of three black women during the early days of NASA. Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn, and Mary Jackson are just some of the many brilliant minds working at NASA. But battling against the ills of social injustice, struggle to find their talents recognized in NASA.
With Hidden Figures being Theodore Melfi’s second major directorial debut, Melfi does not take many risks in this film. Hidden Figures follows the same major story beats of any other Hollywood film of its type and doesn’t seek to stand out much from that crowd. However, that in no way detracts from this films ability to celebrate the lives of these amazing women. Hidden Figures is not a masterpiece of cinema; it’s strength lies in the intrinsic beauty of the story being told.
The screenplay adapted by Melfi and Allison Schroeder is where this film derives its power. Each of these women’s triumphs have so much build up, so much adversity to break past, that once we see each of these women’s victories, the payoff is liberating. Lots of care went to insure each women gets their struggles seen, both internal and external. By the third act we do longer just wish to see them succeed but we need to see them succeed.
While it’s clear the power of the film was born in the writing, Hidden figure phenomenal acting is what brought it life. Octavia Spencer and Taraji P. Henson were the driving force behind this film. Working with such an empowering screenplay, the actresses succeed at bringing out the struggles and successes of each of these ladies.
It was no coincidence this film was released while tensions run high in the US, however it is times like this we have to remind ourselves we all took part in the triumphs of this country. Hidden figures is a celebration, a dedication, and most of all a reminder of the strength of black women everywhere. I did not merely hope for their victories, but I needed them. I cannot recommend this film enough based solely on the power of the story itself. All the while the strength of the acting left me yearning to see them all succeed.