February 25, 2017

Hidden Figures (2016)

Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle MonĂ¡e

Contrary to how movies often portray racism and oppression, it's not always burning crosses on a lawn or being physically attacked on a bus or in a restaurant. And until recently, much of the everyday racism had been buried in small, everyday slights. Not everyone takes up the charge of fighting racism or sexism on a sweeping level; rather, most people just try to get through their lives the best they can.

This movie is so relatable because it shows three women, simply trying to do the best they can for themselves. They have already achieved remarkable things, working at NASA as black women in a time of segregation, but instead of being content with what they were given, they fought for what they deserved. They didn't do it for the sake of being pioneers or some sweeping vision of equality for all, but for themselves, in that moment. That is what most of us do.

So often, movies that represent people fighting against a stacked system are heavy and depressing. We are shown nothing but struggles and the hateful people around them. Those are, of course, important stories to tell as well, but people shouldn't be filled with a sense of dread every time a Civil Rights-era movie comes out.

Hidden Figures, on the other hand, highlights the many triumphs. It is an easy watch, and inspiring all the way through. Much of that, of course, is due to the fact that these women accomplished amazing feats in their lives. But an incredible story is not a guarantee for an equally incredible movie (ahem, Hacksaw Ridge). So the fact that the writers/directors managed to simultaneously portray THREE different stories in an accurate manner is really nothing short of a miracle, frankly.

It seems a little strange to call a story about black women in segregation a "feel good" movie, but that's exactly what it is. I haven't felt this good walking out of a movie in ages.

Final word: I dare anyone to not like this movie.

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