REVIEW: ‘HIDDEN FIGURES’ is an Epic Character Study
A protagonist in every story has their own fate, calling and must fulfill it for mankind, e.g. The Chosen One: Harry Potter, Frodo Baggins, Luke Skywalker and to name more were zero to hero. In case of biopics that details real stories or events, while we look at the notably ones in encyclopedias, newspapers and […]
A protagonist in every story has their own fate, calling and must fulfill it for mankind, e.g. The Chosen One: Harry Potter, Frodo Baggins, Luke Skywalker and to name more were zero to hero. In case of biopics that details real stories or events, while we look at the notably ones in encyclopedias, newspapers and so on, we tend to forget the people behind the scenes, the ones who worked rigorously and paved the way.
Hidden Figures tells a true to life story of Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn and Mary Jackson three remarkable mathematicians at NASA who were behind the on creating the perfect departure and landing formula for the successful 1961 space travel
Narrative focuses on the day in the lead characters highlighting each of their sheer intellect at work, their perseverance amidst the backdrop of racial discrimination and surprisingly, it goes deeper than that. While each of their own self-contained stories, it’s their chemistry and shared determination what makes the storytelling work, it’s about characters and more than just experiencing racial discrimination, it is doing the impossible and making it work.
The math, physics and rocket science concepts while complex, it becomes a part of the characters and the film shows how these characters take on challenging tasks and overcome it, needless to say its their skills at play where they shine; drama becomes secondary and adds the human factor in each and everyone of them, their nuanced take on the discrimination shows an elaborate, layered façade that builds into something special.
One example when Katherine Johnson’s workplace where the colored bathroom and the pantry’s food and drink were labeled with not allowed for color gives her restrictions and affects her productivity, going back and forth to the rest room, running on heels and carrying her papers since it takes time until an argument with her superior, Al Harrison questioned why it takes long for her to take bathroom breaks and then Katherine protested the segregation, ending up with Al removing the “colored” signage which was a powerful, moving scene, that and the argument were just one of the film’s best moments, Taraji Henson P. and Kevin Costner’s acting chops come into play.
Taraji P. Henson gives a phenomenal performance and masterfully brought every aspect of Katherine Johnson’s humanity throughout: articulate, caring and determined. Singer Janelle Monae proves to be a promising budding actress her court scene while emotional was able to channel both class and compassion. Octavia Spencer’s witty take on Dorothy Vaughn makes her the maverick among the leads: her fierce, no nonsense with some sarcastic humor in between shines in every scene she’s in.
Kevin Costner plays Katherine’s stern boss, Al Harrison plays the character with respect; albeit a supporting role, he stole the scene on smashing the “colored” restroom signage with a few words comes as genuinely angry and yet empathic.
If there are two things that the film falls short it would be: Kirsten Dunst is serviceably good as an HR Manager, Vivian Mitchell given the limited material she’s been given and second, John Glen’s introduction towards the third act seems shoehorned however it adds tension and made the stakes higher to the characters’ stories culminating in a high note particularly Katherine.
Hidden Figures may not be epic as blockbusters but it’ a rich s character study that explore the depths of their lives, their hardwork, overcoming the obstacles and most of all success.
Hidden Figures is showing February 22 in Cinemas. Special Thanks to 20th Century Fox PH for the invite!