The film opens in Malaysia today to coincide with the hoopla surrounding it, which is based on the book by Margot Lee Shetterly -- Hidden Figures: The American Dream And The Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win The Space Race.
My first viewing of writer-director Theodore Melfi's film made me tear up. It's so blatantly an uplifting tearjerker. The same thing happened the second time.
Viewers will step out of the cineplexes feeling good about themselves and how Nasa conquered space and racism.
The film focuses on three black female mathematicians at Nasa in 1961. The first, bespectacled Katherine Gobel Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), is a widow with three girls. She's the film's nominal protagonist as she's been plucked from obscurity as kid and enrolled in college, where the close-up shot of the teacher's hand proffering a chalk to her will recur at a critical juncture in her working life.
She's also never had another man after the death of her husband.
The second is Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer, nominated for a Best Supporting Actress), who
|(From left) Janelle Monae, Taraji P. Henson and Octavia Spencer|
show that some girls have all the fun.
All three will encounter discrimination, right from the get-go in the film. For example, the white cop who chances on their broken-down car in the middle of nowhere is schocked to find out that Nasa employs black women.
They even encounter gender discrimination by their own race. For example, Katherine's suitor, Colonel
|Katherine is the black rose among the white thorns.|
I found the film well done and it deserves its many accolades, but I also found it syrupy sweet and sometimes silly.
Katherine's talent comes to the attention of fictionalised Nasa space task programme chief Al Harrison (Kevin Costner), who puts her under lead mathematician Paul Stafford (Jim Parsons). Stafford's ego won't let him acknowledge her superior talent, much less a black woman's. In fact, Katherine is the sole black woman working under Harrison.
The film highlights racism Katherine faces daily. She's hurt when she's forced to get her coffee from a pot market 'colored'. She also has to disappear for more than 30 minutes each time she wants to go the loo as there are no 'colored' loos at her new building. However, her run to a coloured toilet is accompanied by a catchy Pharell song.
All this happens under the watchful eyes of Harrison, whose office towers above his minions, meaning he has a clear view of everything. Harrison is portrayed as fair white man, but come on, how could he not have noticed the 'colored' coffee pot or Katherine's disappearance throughout the day and for many weeks? I notice a colleague coming to work late by 1 hour daily, and another is perpetually late by 1 to 2 hours.
Katherine's outburst finally forces him to see things differently, although it's surprising to have a fair
|Katherine has many steps to climb to convince|
her all white male colleagues.
We have to ask whey the film is being released now, amid accusations of Russians hacking the Democratic party's website to give President Donald Trump an advantage in last year's election. Trump's national security adviser was forced to quit last week over his conversations with the Russian ambassador.
The film is saying that everyone in the US has to band together for Nasa to overcome the Cold War enemy, Russia, and that includes making a saccharine film.
3 1/2 stars out of 5