Hidden Figures Screen 83 of 9 reviews

Hidden Figures

2016

Hidden Figures Poster
  • EVERY scene matters. There’s a build, a flow. Nothing interrupts that flow. There’s a great build from repetition: you see the same situation multiple times throughout the film, and each time you see it, it has shifted just slightly, until finally by the end you realize that the situation has been changed entirely: total transformation. This is extremely effective in terms of how you Tell a Story.

  • The basic virtue of “Hidden Figures,” and it’s a formidable one, is to proclaim with a clarion vibrancy that, were it not for the devoted, unique, and indispensable efforts of three black women scientists, the United States might not have successfully sent people into space or to the moon and back... It's a subtle and powerful work of counter-history, or, rather, of a finally and long-deferred accurate history, that fills in the general outlines of these women’s roles in the space program.

  • A distaff counterpart to The Right Stuff (1983), this exuberant, inspiring drama tells the fact-based story of three black women who strove for upward mobility—both professional and atmospheric—as NASA mathematicians during the JFK era.

  • On paper, Hidden Figures looks like Oscar bait. Yet it's an inspirational and relevant crowd-pleaser that dutifully respects its characters and their various struggles.

  • Melfi imbues his complicated narrative with a three-part clarity that allows his cast—not just his gifted leads, Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monae, but also ace actors Kevin Costner and Mahershala Ali—to glide engagingly and intelligently from drama to comedy, from irony to uplift. Melfi’s showmanship puts a gloss on the material while retaining its freshness. The movie sets off revelatory tingles as it chronicles NASA’s exploitation of its female calculators.

  • The performances are warm and good-humored, without exception. It is absolutely an inspirational movie (though, for the record, I would eagerly embrace the Lifetime-y movie about these women some people undoubtedly expect Hidden Figures to be). But this isn’t _just_ a historical melodrama: It’s a movie that, in its most inspired moments, forces us to question our need to belittle the genre to begin with.

  • This is Oscar bait, to be sure - a tale of unsung bravery from a pocket of history, the vital contributions to the space program of three African-American women (and, it seems, dozens of others) at a moment when segregation was still the law of the land. Hidden Figures hits all the appropriate inspirational beats, and a few more besides. In fact, the extent of its depiction of triumph is part of what makes the film a bit odd and something laudably different in a landscape of awards-season junk.

  • The generic feel-good vibe of Hidden Figures _does_ feel good, particularly once the Friendship 7 vessel approaches liftoff and all the characters coalesce around the event. In light of Glenn's death earlier this month, the film's treatment of him as a gregarious, forward-thinking man who was personally invested in Johnson's calculations counts as a lovely incidental tribute.

  • The women’s dogged refusal to cede their places on a team that keeps trying to reject them is a moving display of heroism, and a constant source of dramatic tension.

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