The story of Hidden Figures was one that I was not aware of, and I’m sure many people were unaware of. The movie doesn’t only make this true story known, but it tries to make you remember it. Years from now, when people mention Katherine Johnson or Dorothy Vaughan or Mary Jackson, other people will say “Yeah, the ladies from that movie, right? That’s a cool movie”. And that’s exactly what the movie is like. It’s memorable because general audiences will be inspired by it and go home talking to their friends about it.
The most admirable aspect of Hidden Figures is the fact that it’s just a nice movie. You can watch it and be inspired, then go home and continue having a good day. Unlike some true story movies, this one isn’t heavy or hard-hitting. Rather than focusing on the oppression that black women faced at the time, it focuses on how they overcame that. That’s what makes it so inspiring. An impossible situation is presented, and these women deal with it. It doesn’t get too pushy or try to preach its message to you, but you get the message very clearly through the excellent storytelling.
I suppose at times the film could have gone a little deeper into the problems that were faced. I admire that it’s uplifting and inspirational, but it could have made certain situations more of a threat. There are a few times when a character is bothered by something, she mentions it to an authority figure, and it’s taken care of instantaneously. It made me really like the characters and it showed to the audience that they are determined to make things right, but sometimes their struggle could have been depicted in a more real way, rather than seeming easy.
The three lead women in the film, Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monáe are fantastic at showing the strength, the determination, and the incredible minds of the real women the characters are based on. They all bust their butts every day, but they also have personal lives outside of NASA and we see times of weakness and vulnerability. They’re all very well-rounded characters, and the portrayals by the stars were spot-on.
I highly admire the supporting cast as well. Some actors I didn’t even know were in the film showed up and did an amazing job. Jim Parsons and Kirsten Dunst both play characters that you aren’t so fond of. The film doesn’t make them look evil, though. You can also understand where they’re coming from, and how they see what’s happening in society and just go along with it. It’s interesting, as well, to see them change as they get to know these three women and see things in a slightly different way.
Kevin Costner plays pretty much the complete opposite of the other supporting characters. He’s absorbed in his own work at first, but the minute he sees what Katherine (Taraji P. Henson) is dealing with, he begins to understand her and change things around to make it easier for her. All of these character arcs that we witness should be exactly what we, as an audience, experience for ourselves. I don’t necessarily mean that everybody watching this movie is a hard-hearted racist, but most viewers will likely have a sudden moment of realization because the film sheds light on certain issues that, even if you already know the story or the general idea, may make you reconsider certain points of view.
The soundtrack by both Hans Zimmer and Pharrell Williams, as well as the film’s visual style and cinematography, set a great mood for the film that makes it pleasant to watch. You can see this film and learn a lot from it, but it’s also just a great time that most people will find genuine enjoyment in. Seeing three women that I had never heard of doing brilliant things for NASA that I didn’t know they did, while also fighting stereotypes and oppression, was extremely inspirational for me. If I was inspired by Hidden Figures, than I’m sure there are people who can relate to the film on a much deeper level and will be even more uplifted.
— Camden McDonald