Weightless space shenanigans: Hidden Figures review by Rashid Irani
Direction: Theodore Melfi
Actors: Taraji P Henson, Octavia Spencer
Rating: 2 / 5
Despite impressive performances by an A-list ensemble and a ‘based on true events’ storyline, Hidden Figures fails to generate much excitement.
Adapted from a non-fiction bestseller, director and co-writer Theodore Melfi’s screenplay zeroes in on three gifted African-American women who made invaluable contributions to NASA’s fledgling space programme during the early 1960s, even as they battled racial and gender prejudice and pervasive bigotry in their White male-dominated workplace.
At the centre of the trio is a brilliant mathematician (Taraji P Henson) instrumental in calculating the trajectory of the flight path of John Glenn, the first American astronaut to successfully orbit the earth. Working alongside her are a dedicated computer programmer (Octavia Spencer) and an aerospace engineer (Janelle Monae).
In one of his more significant roles in some time, Kevin Costner is a welcome presence as the head of the NASA task group.
Despite the stellar cast, though, the film is weighted down by an overload of subplots, including one about a budding romance between the single mother math whiz and a veteran guardsman (Mahershala Ali). Coincidentally, both Ali and Janelle Monae also have prominent roles in Moonlight — which also hit screens this week, and is a far better bet if you’re looking for a movie that inspires.
Watch the trailer for Hidden Figures here