When you think of historical scientific figures, Einstein, Turing, and Hawking probably come to mind. But which of these are women? Sure, there’s Marie Curie. But she’s white, and everyone else I mentioned was white. This is worth nothing not because it’s a woke thing to do, but because despite the fact that some women were as intelligent and hardworking as the males they worked with, they were paid less in terms of money and respect (even if they held higher titles such as engineer and mathematician). And, shockingly, the fate of so many black women who were critical to the US space program has been barely discussed at all.
This is what the book Hidden Figures does, and it’s been adapted to a movie with an impressive ensemble of actors.
How to Stream or Download Hidden Figures
You can stream it or you can download the film from a digital store. Click on the Download button at the end of this review.
The Movie Review
In the middle of a Soviet-American race on who’ll first send a man in space, NASA finds unrecognized talent in a group of African-American female mathematicians who acted as the brains behind one of the largest operations in US history. We follow the journey of these three women – Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, and Katherine Johnson – known as “human computers,” as they swiftly advanced through the ranks of NASA alongside some of history’s greatest minds, being given the task of calculating the historic launch of astronaut John Glenn into space and making sure he returns home safely.
They proved themselves to be true heroes, overcoming gender, racial, and professional barriers, while their intellect and drive to dream large, beyond anything the human race had ever done.
Director Theodore Melfi does an excellent job presenting a humble story to the big screen despite having no experience behind the camera. Melfi makes the protagonists easy to empathize with, thanks to his good sense of pace and amazing grasp of the characters in the novel.
The tone remains light-hearted and a bit comedic from beginning to end, downplaying some situations, one in which Katherine runs more than a mile to go to a racially-segregated toilet. Yet it manages to convey enough drama and emotions to hit us right in the feels.
What I really loved about this film is the performances of the trio, who were the main driving force of Hidden Figures. You have Octavia Spencer as the sassy Dorothy Vaughan, Janelle Monae as the determined Mary Jackson, and Taraji P. Henson’s fantastic, chilling performance as Katherine Johnson. With them as the protagonists, you just feel good throughout the seconds, even with the challenges they faced.
From a technical standpoint, the film is visually good and especially sounds amazing. With Hans Zimmer doing the score, as well as Pharrell Williams AND Benjamin Wallfisch (who did the music for Blade Runner 2049), the movie is practically set to have loads of Oscar nominations.
As for any biopic film, it’s a given that many circumstances are dramatized for cinematic reasons. So it’s quite dumb complaining about the inaccuracies of Hidden Figures, but at the same time, a biopic can feel boring especially when it doesn’t offer anything else to the plate. However, the goal of the movie seems to be letting viewers know who Katherine Johnson, Mary Jackson, and Dorothy Vaughan are, and in that, they have succeeded.
The Bottom Line
In conclusion, Hidden Figures is a beautiful and heartwarming film that just gets better. It’s educational though not exactly historically accurate, it’s funny, and it’s also emotional. Strong in many aspects, Hidden Figures is a balanced movie with a great story and a talented cast, as well as an inspiring message. I wish to see more movies like this, where women are portrayed sincerely and with love.