Review: Hidden Figures – Plenty of uplift to take off

Hidden figures is the untold story of Katherine G. Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae) – extremely talented African-American women working for NASA that served as the brains behind the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. One of the greatest operations in U.S history that saw the successful launch of John Glenn into orbit. A remarkable story based on true events depicting the women we don’t know, behind the mission we do.

‘A remarkable story based on true events depicting the women we don’t know, behind the mission we do’

While Hidden figures is not pushing the cinematic boat out in any new directions the storyline of these three women who challenged both gender and racial boundaries is told with a lot of verve and charm, both sobering and making me laugh throughout this lesson in racial history.

I think I had a naïve, and probably foolish notion that the film would reject gender and racially specific roles with this strong trio. It might be important to point out here that without any shadow of a doubt I am no closet feminist. At first my excitement of three black women being the main centre of attention was uncontrollable. However, the frank depiction of women, not to mention coloured women in the 1950-60’s was eye opening and incredibly powerful. The screenplay portrayed the struggles each of them had to overcome to reach their full potential and be taken seriously. I was angry that these inspirational women had not been highlighted a long time ago for their pioneering work. I wish the film had existed in time period Hidden Figures represents.

‘I was angry that these inspirational women had not been highlighted a long time ago for their pioneering work’

Despite these issues the film is wonderful and the cast adopt their roles beautifully allowing for an uplifting feel good film. The trio is witty, charismatic and full of sass and therefore, no surprise that the film has been nominated for so many awards including best motion picture of the year (Academy awards) and best screenplay (BAFTAS). Pharrell Williams deserves a mention as well for his lively contribution to the soundtrack having taken a break from The Voice to co-compose some of the songs, which are all upbeat and energetic. I walked away from the film feeling a combination of inspiration and empowerment.

Gabriella Davis

(Image courtesy of 20th Century Fox)

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