Hidden Figures (2016) : Movie Review
“Based on a true story”, Hidden Figures sheds light on a crucial part of social and space history, something that most of us don’t have an idea about. It’s a damn shame because it’s a major piece of the historical puzzle.
Hidden Figures tells the story of Katherine G. Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe) – three brilliant African-American women who worked at NASA and were the brains behind one of the greatest operations in history: the launch of John Glenn the astronaut into orbit. Together they blurred and crossed a series of significant boundaries, including gender and race lines but it’s something that isn’t talked about enough.
The three leading ladies are excellent in various ways, delivering stunning, engaging performances that impress all. Sure, there are some moments that are styled a tab bit cliched Hollywood rather than this being somewhat of a biopic, but they come off more as sassy rather than harsh or synthetic.
We get it, every True Story has to be tweaked one way or another to make it more presentable to the masses as a feature film. The fact that the people behind the film are upfront & honest about some elements of the story having been tweaked makes Hidden Figures truly work as a film. And this makes sure that the sincerity of the film to the story and its credibility stays intact. Case in point: Kevin Costner’s portrayal of Al Harrison, a sort-of combination of three different people where Costner gives the character a uniqueness and something rich that makes you realize that nobody’s forcing him to do this movie, take up this role. He’s Al Harrison because he wants to and not only because he has to.
The quartet is supported by a cast who give equally exceptional performances as well, regardless of screen time. Kirsten Dunst as the boss of the trailblazing trio, Jim Parsons as Paul Stafford – who is a delightful man with a major chip on his shoulder and unwelcome to change, the always brilliant Mahershala Ali, Aldis Hodge as Levi Jackson and Glen Powell as legendary astronaut John Glenn. There is not one person on screen that doesn’t cut through and deliver something amazing that is in some way affecting, dramatically or through gentle humor.
This is a drama (based on a true story, not an exact reconstruction of specific events) that is meant to educate, enlighten and entertain. Hidden Figures does all three in tandem. The real stars of the film are Henson, Spencer, and Monáe who turn in some of the most effortlessly watchable performances of the year and deliver exactly what is called for, and more!
A key performance that you never see in the film is the music score and soundtrack. Precise, yet delicate and while it’s nowhere near a classic, is perfect thanks to Pharell Williams’ ’60’s-inspired music and Hans Zimmer’s usual brilliance. While at times it feels like a bit much, it’s never detrimental to the movie as a whole. Hidden Figures is a movie that is engaging, easy on the eyes, highly intelligent and truly deserves all the praise it’s getting.