Most biopics and historical dramas focus on stories that we are already familiar with. The most interesting pieces of history are the ones hidden from the mainstream. “Hidden Figures” goes out of its way to tell an interesting story and comes away being an amazing tale of three heroic women and the difficulties they faced.
Three women, Katherine Goble (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Moane) are talented mathematicians working for NASA in the early years of the space race. After the successful launch of Sputnik, the US races to launch a man into space before the Russians can. With tensions already running high at NASA, the three women fight for proper recognition of their talents and against workplace racism and segregation during the height of the Civil Right movement.
“Hidden Figures” is filled with incredible performances. Spencer does an amazing job as the eldest of the three leads. She is a motherly figure and is clearly familiar with the more egregious and unapologetic racism as opposed to her colleagues. It’s empowering to not only see her fight for the station and respect she deserves, but to protect and ensure the protection of her fellow women as well. One of the most moving points in the film comes from Dorothy securing the positions of her coworkers, leading them in a triumphant parade of victory to a building that they were once forbidden to enter due to the color of their skin. It’s a victorious declaration of changing times and it’s an incredible image.
Taraji P. Henson gives what is easily her best performance so far. She proves that she can handle dramatic material while also being the incredibly charismatic and lovable personality she has already proven herself to be in other projects, although, Henson’s work in this film is much more reserved than previous roles.
Goble is diminutive but also capable of running a room and on the off moments when she can no longer hold back her emotions, she is absolutely riveting to watch. She most certainly deserves an award nomination for her work.
There’s something so captivating about the story being told. Other historical dramas opt to approach familiar stories like tales of war, crime, and political races. “Hidden Figures” isn’t about a familiar story. It takes a stance on telling an incredible tale of three women who have been unceremoniously ripped from our history books. It reclaims history with a fervent upward hoisted fist and declares the real heroes for the whole world to see. The film unabashedly strikes down the hypocrisy of segregation and racism, instead opting to show a story of three amazing black women who rose up against a multitude of odds and changed the world forever. These are the stories we don’t hear, and yet these filmmakers wanted the world to know and for that, I tip my hat to them.
“Hidden Figures” is historical drama done right with amazing performances and talented writing that goes out of its way to make captivating points about history and the people who shaped it.