Saturday, 25 February 2017
#18 HIDDEN FIGURES
Starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monae, Kevin Costner, Kirsten Dunst and Jim Parsons. Written by Theodore Melfi and Allison Schroeder. Directed by Theodore Melfi. Running time 127 minutes. Budget $25 million. Certificate 12.
The dramatized story of how, in the early 1960s, three women of color fought against institutional racism, sexism and prejudice to help NASA and America win the space race against those no-good commies set against a belting funky sound track, a real eye for period detail and a highly likeable cast.
This is a well made, but very one note movie with no real highs or lows, lacking as it does any form of plot, the ending is never in doubt, which is hardly a problem since this is the sort of film where the journey is the most interesting part, not the destination. The film follows the lives of three genuinely astonishing and super intelligent woman, Katherine Goble (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughn (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe) whom, because of the color of their skin were always looked down on, patronized and criminally under-estimated, by all that is except Kevin Costner's made up character Al Harrison - seemingly the only man in the whole of NASA able to look beyond the color of Katherine's skin and utilize her incredible mathematical skills.
For anyone with a fascination for the early days of the American Space Race and the movie The Right Stuff, this is terrific stuff, showing us the behind the scenes workings of the geniuses who worked the numbers and created the mathematics to put man into space before they even had computers!
This isn't an easy watch, it's truly difficult to witness the naked racism, the contempt and suspicion that the likes of Kirsten Dunst and Jim Parsons's characters throw at the our three heroines. The scenes inside NASA are gripping and exciting, but not so the 'God Bless America' moments outside the office, where everyone gets on, goes to Church socials, and fall, oh-so-politely, in love, that is when they're not winning the right to go to university, or secretly learning how to operate and repair NASA's first IBM computer, or just tearing down the wall of ignorance by going to the toilet. The film ends with the photos of the actual women and what they achieved and how they were honored and that's just icing on the cake.
I'd recommend watching this and The Right Stuff as a double bill. Thoroughly entertaining stuff.