Hidden Figures, movie, film, review, Oscars, Academy Awards, 2017

Hidden Figures (2017) – Review

When I first saw the trailer for Hidden Figures – a point at which I had no idea it even existed – I admit I rolled my eyes. Not, I assure you, at the subject matter, but at the somewhat naff creative direction the trailer took. That shamelessly sentimental “you can do it!” music, fluttering up in grandeur the longer it went on, painted the film as bland topical fodder; something desperately tugging on the heartstrings in the pursuit of awards rather than a film with a pulse or purpose. That assumption couldn’t have been further from the truth, as Hidden Figures is a film with not just a pulse, but a thumping heartbeat. It’s a film with something to say, a film that wants to tell an important story not because it’s the right time to do so, but because it’s important. The truth is that Hidden Figures made me both laugh and cry, and filled me with hope and courage in a time where such necessary virtues are being lost amidst a collective anxiety.

Of course, this is awards-bait – there’s no escaping that – but it is so by association rather than intent. There’s never a moment where it feels like the film cares that’s it’s doing all the ‘Oscary’ things like dramatic speeches and seeing disadvantaged characters overcoming adversity. What the film does is manage to be moving, funny, important and poignant in a completely unassuming way, and this lack of presumption is at least part of what makes it such an enjoyable and refreshing experience. After all, it’s not like the film is particularly innovative – it’s just a really good story really well told.

Hidden Figures, true story, review, film, movie, Oscars

With a PG certificate it’s also perfectly suitable for children, as I was so clearly reminded when I showed my ticket to the usher and was informed I had booked a ticket for the baby screening (the look of suspicion caressing his face when he asked if I was alone was priceless). What this ultimately means is that it never quite veers off into that especially dark territory we often expect – certain scenes teeter along the edge of horrifying, but it never approaches the subject matter in the brutal way that Selma did, to take a recent example. Yet it’s to the film’s credit that this doesn’t reduce the impact. Without being overtly shocking, it’s able to tackle this important and terrible issue full-on with persuasion and consequence. The central performances from Octavia Spencer, Taraji P. Henson and Janelle Monae certainly go a long way in making everything so effective.

Curiously, with this is mind, I’m not sure if it’s correct to label Hidden Figures some kind of masterpiece. I don’t suspect it will be many people’s very favourite film of the year, and it may even be forgotten fairly quickly post-Oscars. But on the other hand I can’t think of a bad thing to say about it, and, like it’s titular hidden figures, it ought not to be lost in the crowd without being given the credit its due.


Verdict:

Hidden Figures isn’t likely to be the best film you’ve ever seen, but you’ll struggle to find a bad thing to say about it. Poignant, inspiring, emotional and tremendously enjoyable, capped off with three terrific central performances.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

1 Comment

  • partidario February 23, 2017 at 12:26 pm:

    Great review Eddy.

    Reply

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