‘Hidden Figures’: Uncovers a gem

Ian Murdock
Special to the Village News

Set in the racially heated 1950’s and 1960’s, as well as the Cold War period, “Hidden Figures” lays out – accurately, forcefully and deftly – the true tale of three exceptionally intelligent African American female mathematicians, working in the predominantly white male neighborhood of NASA, and the “race to space.”

The three leading ladies – Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monai and Taraji P. Henson – as well as Kevin Costner, generate deeply genuine performances, filled with heart, fear, shame and pride.

The beautifully handled film – filled with all the prejudices and injustices that one associates with those times – takes the audience on the journey of these strong, determined and brilliant women to become respected and treated as they, and all, ought to be.

Several historical and memorable moments occur, as do simple “school girl” like one’s – evoking and mixing goosebumps with chills and, at times, wonderfully innocent laughter. The writer and director produce one special moment after another.

While there were many pronounced examples of the unthinkable and prejudicial treatment of that time, what made this story so special was the subtle and understated manner in which the writer portrayed the discomfort and awkwardness from both sides – essentially, in several scenes (one very early on), reflecting confusion and more lack of understanding, than bigotry, though make no mistake the latter certainly transpired.

While clearly establishing the terrible biases of the time period, “Hidden Figures” transcends that message, gracefully, and demonstratively at times, revealing the open minds that did exist then – while allowing, as well as demanding, the world to progress in its thinking.

With superb and artful renditions by all the leading characters, and a skillful, all embracing delivery of this material, “Hidden Figures” certainly ranks among the finest of the year – providing a compelling story that should be seen by all.

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