“Hidden Figures” 2016 – Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monet, Kevin Costner, Mahershala Ali, Jim Parsons and Kirsten Dunst
Directed by: Theodore Melfi
Friday night, the kids asnooze in their beds, we rub our hands maniacally at the prospect of a movie to watch. Horror? Drama? Action? Hidden Figures? (Sure, why not, we have plenty of wine.)
As is my wont, I view the wife’s choice with a jaundiced eye and think to myself, “Dear Barbara, not a weepy chick flick. Ugh.” As is the rule around here, I was wrong. Hidden Figures comes along at a time when we all can use some reassurance in the idea that right will prevail no matter the circumstances.
Katherine Goble (Taraji P. Henson, Benjamin Button, No Good Deed) is a child prodigy in mathematics during segregated and red-scare plagued America. Despite showing uncharted brilliance she and fellow “mathletes” Dorothy Vaughn (Octavia Spencer, The Help, Gifted) and Mary Johnson (Janelle Monet, The Equalizer, Bad Moms) find themselves wrestling to prove that despite their gender and race, they are precisely what NASA needs to be the best and brightest in space. It seems an appropriate place for stars such as these.
During the fledgling space program Goble, Vaughn and Johnson are assigned to the bowels of NASA’s computer program where they must toil away with less pay, less recognition and the burden of race placed upon their shoulders. All three find themselves facing headwinds of sexism and racism during America’s growing pains of the early 60’s.
Honestly, this is difficult to watch because both the wife and I were not reared to see things like race or a person’s sex but to listen to ideas and sometimes criticism that can make us better at what we do. As difficult as it was to view, there was a single overriding idea in the movie. Genius will not be suppressed. No matter who a person may be, if you possess the correct answers to the questions being asked you will be heard.
Some scenes in this movie show the segregation of restrooms, work spaces and even coffee makers and this not easily stomached no matter how far removed it may be from our couch. However, if one can tolerate the fear and hatred initially displayed during the movies critical scenes one can get to the heart of the film: Truth knows no color, sex or cultural background; truth is the same to everyone. Standing on this one solid bedrock of truth permits us to take the next step in our evolution and maturity.
This is a true story and we know how the US landed on the moon and that John Glenn became a US Senator so there is not much to left to imagine. What is new is how we got to the moon and who got us there first. Yes, this movie is about mathematics; a science that is either correct or not but it also says a bit more. No matter who we may be, our prejudices cause us to view groups of people in a particular way. When those views are cracked then broken we face a decision. Do we to continue as though prejudice still functions to protect us or do we see it as harming our growth?
Hidden Figures places us at ground zero for racism and sexism with US citizens who lived and worked with it every day during a time it was considered normal. However, instead of making us angry, instead of making us want to look bigots in the eye and spit, our characters bring out more in us. Goble, Vaughn and Johnson stand trembling but firm and look not at their enemies but up to the stars where they all work to take the US into space. More than mathematics, physics, race and sexism in the workplace this movie is not about what America and mankind is; it is about what American and mankind can be. This movie is about the limitless bounds we can all reach if we accept each other for what we can become, not for what we appear to be.
We rate this one: a Gem!