By Adam Ray Palmer
We saw Hidden Figures earlier this week at the Phoenix Cinema in a packed, energetic theatre. The screening even ended with a decent amount of clapping.
I hadn’t heard clapping at the end of film since the Venice Film Festival last year, but as unexpected as that was, Hidden Figures has also done some unforeseen records too.
Read our review of the little gem of a film below…
Hidden Figures is based on the inspiring true story of three brilliant African-American women who worked at NASA in the 1950s and '60s as "human computers". Dorothy Vaughn (Octavia Spencer), Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe), and Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson) were engineers and computers at NASA at a time when both women and African Americans were still widely discriminated against, particularly in segregationist Virginia. where NASA's Langley Research Centre is based.
There’s something intoxicating about this film. For a movie about an important story surrounded by a more than delicate issue, it all seemed so uplifting. Many Civil Rights-era stories are understandably upsetting but Hidden Figures remains a crowd-pleaser. The three leads are faced with daily discrimination in the form of segregated bathrooms, office, literally everything; and yet the trio are undeniably positive and let their talents do the talking.
Henson, Spencer, and Monáe's powerful and memorable performances propel this feel-good biographical drama to new heights (excuse the pun) by telling a little-known story from NASA’s history in a heart-warming manner. The undeniable ridiculousness of the discrimination is portrayed throughout, and as a constant reminder of the times, but your only take away from this film is how delightful the women were and how they broke down so many barriers.
The three stars are the perfect casting. Henson helms the feature sturdily playing the extremely intelligent, widowed mother Katherine. But you also can’t overlook the tremendous support of Spencer as the maternal office worker Dorothy, earning her an Oscar nod, and the fabulous Monáe who turns in another great performance following Moonlight as Mary.
Even the antagonists in the film are not your usual ‘villains’. Kirsten Dunst’s Mrs Michael and Jim Parsons’ Paul Stafford are not your evil baddies, but instead reflect the discriminative times of the 1950s by singling out the ladies just for the colour of their skin. Spencer and Dunst go head-to-head over new computers potentially making an office full of employees redundant and Parsons and Henson battle over how much he ridicules her; even though she wipes the floor with him.
There’s simply an aura around Hidden Figures. From start to finish, there’s a strong feeling of willingness for them to succeed. From the moment we see the trio fixing their broken down car in scene one, right the way to the pre-credits sequence of showcasing the true heroes at the end. The tribute to Dorothy, Mary and Katherine at the climax tops off a wonderful movie that has broken records worldwide. Hidden Figures was the first non-franchise, female-led film to remain at the top spot of the box office revenue for consecutive weeks since 2011, it was the film to knock off Rogue One from the number one position earlier this year and Hidden Figures overtook La La Land to become highest-grossing Best Picture nominee this year. Simply, phenomenal.
Overall, Hidden Figures is a delight. It has incredible performances throughout; the writing is slick and it never misses a beat (literally, the music from Pharrell Williams is toe-tappingly addictive). The story itself is extremely important and it needed to be told. The best bit? It was told in glorious style.
Cineroom’s rating: 4.5 Stars
Hidden Figures screened at the Phoenix Leicester this week, with more Oscar-nominated films now showing – certificate PG