Hidden Figures (USA, 2016)

hidden_figures_ver2Directed by: Theodore Melfi. I saw this movie with my mom, and we both really enjoyed it. It can be a challenge sometimes to find a movie that’s likely to perform that feat—something interesting but not “weird”, something smart but not “intellectual”, something with some emotion without being sentimental…ah fuck it, I love sentimental movies. This movie definitely hits you in the feels, and honestly I think I even came close to tearing up a bit one or two times. Maybe that says more about me than the movie, but I thought it was a darn fine movie. Oh sure, there was a little voice in the back of my head, the uppity 22 year old University student in critical studies class, dissecting every Hollywood movie and acting like it makes me a fucking genius, chirping at me—but this movie offers a very sanitized version of the combined racism and sexism that these women probably experienced every day, surely at a much higher degree than a passive aggressive note left on the coffee pot by the kid from Big Bang Theory—I mean, where’s the threat of violence? Sure, fine, yes. And of course, the film still has its rock solid leading white male dad figure to help facilitate the good changes we want to see in this story, in this case Kevin Costner. But on the other hand, this isn’t that kind of movie, and furthermore, Kevin Costner can do no wrong. This is mid-level social commentary, not bone-cutting social commentary, and I’m trying to be mature enough to admit that there’s room for less than bone-cutting, especially where me and my mother are concerned. I’m glad that there’s movies like this out there that give you a little something to chew on while giving you some feel-good emotions, even if the dialogue is a touch expository (“I’m a Polish Jew whose parents died in the Holocaust, working here at NASA! Don’t tell me about impossible!”). But all of this is small potatoes. This movie has three leading women of colour, and that alone is something you don’t see a ton of. Taraji P. Henson does a great job carrying this thing, even with a lot of competition in “big name” white dudes, namely Kevin Costner and the kid from Big Bang Theory, so that it’s really easy to just ignore the kid from Big Bang Theory, and even bigger distraction in the charming and handsome Mahershala Ali (aka Remy Danton). Speaking of Moonlight, I actually almost didn’t recognize Janelle Monae in this, so that 60’s hair must have done something. The subplot with Octavia Spencer and Kirsten Dunst was a welcome addition, if only because I haven’t seen Ms Dunst since her amazing performance in Melancholia. And although I’m not sure it merited an Oscar nomination for Best Picture, as the old cowboy said, deserve’s got nothin to do with it. At any rate, this film features a good pal of mine as a background actor a couple of times, and I enjoyed it for that reason alone.

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One response to “Hidden Figures (USA, 2016)

  1. Pingback: Lion (Australia/UK, 2016) | Offhand Reviews·

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