I have a confession; I love movies that I know I am probably going to cry in. I love movies about the underdog and enjoy sitting down to experience the heartache, failures, successes, and genuinely happy moments of what I am witnessing. If a trailer can radiate that to me, I’ll probably watch that movie. Hidden Figures promises to be that, and it delivers.
Following the story of three young, African-American women in the early sixties who work for NASA, Hidden Figures shows us that even within the walls of an intellectual institution, respect and credit were both denied to anyone that wasn’t white regardless of academic merit, work ethic, or intellectual prowess. Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monae, and Taraji Henson all do an outstanding job portraying their characters, including both the challenges they faced and the respect they deserved.
This movie does not just deal with blatant racism. In fact, it deals more with closet racism and privilege than it does outright, hateful racist people. There are good times, hard times, frustrating times, and everything in between. Hidden Figures doesn’t try to preach a message of acceptance, tolerance, or kindness. It simply tells the story of these three young women and the challenges they faced. Of course, there are opportunities for various individuals to self-evaluate their own roles in racism. In some ways, we have come a long way as a society because of self-evaluation. In other ways, we face the same challenges, as a society, fifty years later, and this is a message that Hidden Figures delivers flawlessly; the unobvious racist is something that can be witnessed daily, and that even we do not preach hatred with harsh words, we might by not preaching acceptance and kindness with our lives. The simple things that we accept may need to be questioned.
This is a feel-good movie. It markets itself as such, and it leaves you feeling both relieved for these three women overcoming their challenges and respectful of their journey. My only quip would be that everyone who has a minor role with being part of the challenge, has a redeeming moment by the end of the film. Though this contributes to the feel-good atmosphere of the film, that’s not life. Not everyone accepts the challenge of realizing their selfish, intolerable behavior. To paint the picture as such, diminishes, even if it’s just slightly, the work that these three women continued to do for years after the events of this film.