[Movie Review] Hidden Figures (2016)
Hidden Figures is a 2016 American biographical drama film directed by Theodore Melfi and written by Melfi and Allison Schroeder, based on the non-fiction book of the same name by Margot Lee Shetterly about female African-American mathematicians at NASA.
The film is well-received by critics and audience alike. It was chosen by the National Board of Review as one of the top ten films of 2016 and has been nominated for numerous awards, including three Oscars, for Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Supporting Actress for Octavia Spencer, and two Golden Globes, Best Supporting Actress (Spencer) and Best Original Score. It won the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture. As of February 19, 2017, Hidden Figures has grossed US$142.6 million in the United States and Canada and US$21.3 million in other territories for a worldwide gross of US$163.9 million, against a production budget of US$25 million.
The film will be showing in Singapore cinemas from 23 February 2017. I caught the preview screening earlier in January and found the story very uplifting and inspiring overall, despite it being a little too dramatised and simplified for a non-fictional piece.
The performance from the all-female lead cast was stellar and it’s a refreshing change to watch a Hollywood film told from the point of view of female protagonists.
Hidden Figures is the incredible untold story of Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughn (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae)—brilliant African-American women working at NASA, who served as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in history: the launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit, a stunning achievement that restored the nation’s confidence, turned around the Space Race, and galvanized the world. The visionary trio crossed all gender and race lines to inspire generations to dream big.
It is hard to imagine that racial segregation and gender discrimination were such recent events in American history. The story is set in the 1960s, just one or two generations away from us. With the recent election of Donald J. Trump as the new president of the United States, the country seems to be sliding back into the same old racist and sexist pasts again. Hidden Figures is a timely reminder not to take advancement in gender and racial equalities for granted in modern society – not just in America, but globally and in Singapore too.
Beyond the heavy theme on gender and race, there is also the feel-good stories of three ordinary women who managed to achieve great things in their lives by believing in themselves and sticking to their convictions.
If you are feeling down lately from work, relationship or other personal woes, this is the film to watch for a spirit uplift!