Film Title: Hidden Figures
Book Title: Hidden Figures
Release Year: 2016
Summary: "The story of a team of African-American women mathematicians who served a vital role in NASA during the early years of the US space program."
What I Thought: I had the privilege to read Margot Lee Shetterly's book on these amazing women last fall thanks to TLC Book Tours. I was excited to see the movie then and speculated on how it would be executed. The book is great and informative, but I predicted the movie would need to amp up some of the drama in order to engage modern audiences. Thus, I worried the story would become too distorted.
Since my mom came to town not too long after the movie came out, I actually had the chance to go see this one in theaters. That's such a rare treat for me; we almost never got to the actual movie theater and when we do it's usually the cheap theater months after the movie comes out. So, it was a special afternoon with my mom all around.
A big win.
We both really liked the movie and found it educational and inspiring. I just kept thinking how I wish every young girl in America could see this story - especially young black girls. There's a lot of talk in our literary and entertainment worlds about what it means to see diversity in action. It can be hard to imagine yourself doing a particular role until you see someone like you doing it. Seeing this movie felt like such real, important proof of that. I want girls everyone to see this strong, smart black women doing big jobs with pride and prowess. It's so empowering to see women of color doing things like this - and to know it's all based on reality!
Predictably, Hollywood did take a little dramatic license with the story, but not as much as I expected. They shrunk the story of the book down considerably to focus on three specific women during race to get an American into space. The book covers much more of the history both before and after this particular period, but I see why they choose this part. I would have liked to see them tackle the period of the moon landing, because I found that to be the most interesting part of the book, but I definitely understand why this part of the story worked best on screen.
Casting was fantastic all around. Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monáe were all simply delightful. It was odd to see Jim Parsons in such a negative, serious role after being used to him as Sheldon on The Big Bang Theory, but he did wonderfully. I appreciated that, in general, the antagonist of the story was racism and discrimination and the Russians more than any one person. Of course, the women encountered issues with specific coworkers (Parsons' and Kirsten Dunst's characters specifically), but, in the end, there was some level of reconciliation with everyone. Things ended more neatly on screen then in real life, of course.
I just want everyone to see this movie. It does such a good job raising up women of color and also pointing out how microaggressions can be so harmful and hateful. I plan on watching it with Kevin sometime when we have a free night. I think he'll really enjoy it as well. I'm so glad to see that this film is winning awards and doing well at the box office. I hope it means that Hollywood will continue telling stories like these!
Will I Re-Watch: Yes!
A Reduced Review: Everyone should see this movie and celebrate these amazing women and their work.