Hidden Figures suffers from a bad script: the plot structure is tired, the dialogue is platitudinous, the score/soundtrack is heavy-handed.1 Overall, the actors do well with what they’re given.2 The cinematography is good. The costuming is outstanding.
Still, there’s something there: if I could re-cut it (with a better script and score), I would split it into two halves – Part 1: At Work; Part 2: At Home.
I wanted to see the women work. I wanted to see what happened in the Colored Computers room. I wanted to see the women learn Fortran, work the IBM, interact regularly with their colleagues in their assigned posts.
I wanted to see more of the women’s homes. I wanted to see if they did their own housekeeping. I wanted to know if they made more than their husbands. I wanted to see them truly interact with their children.
The Part 1/Part 2 split would, for me, give more insight into the ‘why’ and ‘how’ the ‘hidden figures’ navigated life in segregated America. Particularly at home, the up-shot of their work meant that the women were (likely) solidly middle class. What does that look like? How is that maintained? Extended time in that space would do for me in a feature film what the Gropius House side of Lorna Simpson’s installation Corridor, 2003 does in art:
Lorna SimpsonCorridor, Installation, 2003
In talking about Corridor, Simpson is explicit that there is an intent to visualize Black middle class/upper class life in the 1960s. Thus, for me, rather than Hidden Figures, Corridor is an important personal reference – it represents spaces similar to those that I occupy.