Biopics, or Biographical pictures, are movies that tell the story of a real existing person. These films are often very hit or miss. Sometimes a biopic can cleverly tell a person’s life story in an engaging way that keeps you entertained while you learn about them. Other times they are awkward, adding fictional plot elements to make the film seem more exciting. Luckily, Hidden Figures is one of the good ones. This lovely story kept me engaged the entire time and I left the theater very satisfied.
The film focuses Katherine Johnson (Taraji Henson), an African American NASA computer back in the 1960s. She along with other African American women work in a “colored department” where they go out and assist the other employees make calculations. She and her two friends Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe) are all brilliant individuals and it seems the only thing keeping them from moving up in their fields is their color. All of them aspire to do what they can to help NASA get a man into orbit. Katherine, with her brilliant math skills helps the special task group conduct important calculations to figure out how the rocket will successfully orbit the earth. Mary wants nothing more than to be an engineer but the only place that could teach her is an all white high-school. Dorothy discovers that NASA has bought a new supercomputer that will eliminate all of the computers in the color department. To save her and her colleagues she teaches herself how the super computer works in order to run it herself.
I really enjoyed this film, I felt like I was learning about Katherine and her friends actual lives and what they did to help the orbiting mission. The film did a good job at showing us both their lives at work and their lives at home. Not only do we experience what it was like to work for NASA in the 60s, but we see how a woman of color experienced it. Above all things this film told a story that I did not even know existed. Due to this, not only do I know that people of color DID work at NASA but in addition I learned how these three women were essential to the Space Race. Nothing seemed forced or fake in the conflicts or the character’s interactions with those around them. Even Kevin Costner, who for me is usually very bland in the roles he’s been in, was much more lively or at least fit this role much more naturally than normal. I felt the cinematography was fine, nothing extraordinary but nothing offensive either. Finally I am just happy that this film exists. I think that this is a great film for families to see together. I went with my family and left the theater talking about it for hours. I give Hidden Figures a 4 out of 5