Mark Young

myoung@foghornnews.com

 

Telling the largely unknown story of the black women who were a vital part in the space race, “Hidden Figures” is a must-see movie of an eye-opening perspective on a major event in U.S. history. Directed by Theodore Melfi, best known for 2014’s “St. Vincent,” “Hidden Figures” stars Taraji P. Henson, Janelle Monáe and Octavia Spencer as three mathematicians in 1962 who deal with racism and sexism to try to reach the top of their field.

In high school history, everyone remembers learning about the Cold War, the space race and the moon landing. However, you probably didn’t learn that NASA had a whole unit of black women who did math for them and were called “computers.” You probably also didn’t know that a black woman was one of the key reasons the U.S. was able to win the space race. “Hidden Figures” tells the story of the black women who worked at NASA and is one of those rare films that truly becomes a “must-see” movie, simply because of how revealing and eye-opening it is.

“Hidden Figures” centers on Katherine Goble, a mathematician who works as one of the “computers” at NASA along with Dorothy Vaughn and Mary Jackson, a mathematician and engineer who each played a part in helping with Project Mercury. The film follows these women in the days after Sputnik, with the immense pressure on NASA to launch a man into space leading these women to be able to rise in their field.

Each of the three leads play strong women and show this strength constantly through the film. All of them give a dedicated performance that will keep you constantly entertained. While the style and script are not totally innovating, they are solid and approachable, which helps focus on the problems the film is trying to highlight. The breezy and modern score escalates to ethereal on a dime, with Pharrell and Hans Zimmer teaming up for the film.

Very few films show such a dark side of our history in such a timely manner. In the final days of the first black president’s term and heightened racial tension, “Hidden Figures” not only excels at showing that humanity has an ugly side, but that things can get better. The three leads all play talented mathematicians, who each deal with a large amount of racism and sexism every day. All three work in the same department at NASA, doing the lower jobs, even though they’re capable of more.

“Hidden Figures” is itself a history lesson, one that time forgot. Even the name alludes to how these women were “hidden” from history and are seldom taught to people in school. While the film isn’t the most unique film in recent years, it is one of the most important. The film ultimately succeeds in doing the one thing that all cinema should do — it tells a story not often heard. “Hidden Figures” true breakthrough is being able to tell such a crucial story that was erased due to the U.S. history of racism and telling the story in a powerful, successful way. At the time of writing this review, “Hidden Figures” had been No. 2 at the box office for two weeks, beating out the likes of Ben Affleck and “Star Wars,” showing how people truly want to hear stories like these.

“Hidden Figures” is one of the few films that grows out of just an entertaining movie to being a crucial and timely story of people overcoming adversity.

 

Cast: A+

Script: A-

Cinematography: A-

Score: A

Overall: A

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