Written by Theodore Melfi and Allison Schroeder, Directed by Melfi
Staring: Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Jonelle Monae and Kevin Costner
Like so many others of ALL ethnicities and genders, I’ve been sluggish since the election. Sluggish may be too kind a word. But you get my drift.
Happy I am to report that watching “Hidden Figures” lifted the pall and had me cheering at the screen in my nice empty house! Talking to the walls or talking back to the screen is common around here. But “Hidden Figures” had me in a jolly mood, a mood of triumph and dare I say, JOY – as it fits neatly into my dream discussion of black folks on the silver screen. This is a FEEL GOOD movie based on facts and our precious history, our journey. BRILLIANT BLACK WOMEN press against the racism and sexism of the the time (early 1960’s) to achieve incredible respect for themselves and success in an area that few really understand. So here we have three (actually an entire team!) of brainiacs pushing through the dumb stuff to the “promised land” of respect inherent in the success of the American Space program in the 1960’s.
Kevin Costner is surrounded again by stunning black ladies and by now, he’s comfortable in this space. He’s the boss-dude – more interested in WHO can do the job (the calculations) and not at all interested in the parochial attitudes of the rest of his male team. All of these actresses – Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Jonelle Monae are wonderful. Monae is the surprise, underplaying exquisitely, allowing the camera to do its work. Her work is subtle and spot on. She has enough screen charisma for three or four people.
This is a formulaic story – as presented. It works! It’s a true story shaped into a Hollywood formula that has worked for years and years. Women blossoming in areas reserved for men in years past who not only excel but also SOLVE THE PROBLEM! I had not a clue that these black women who were geeks on the stratospheric level even existed. For sure I never heard of any black women working with NASA in the early 1960’s!! So happy to know we were in that mix as well. Celebrate!!
Pharrell is one of the producers of this film and also gives it good music, especially a gospel song at the end of the film sung by the indomitable Kim Burrell. This film is so endearing, so positive in tone.. a great way for gal pals to spend an afternoon! Guys, too!!