This reminded me of Lion: it painstakingly fenceposts its plot developments to an almost embarrassingly obvious degree, it wants your heart to swell as the protagonists overcome their adversities (and adversaries) and get where they want to be, and it doesn’t scream highbrow cinema at all—and is almost proud not to (I mean, all those shots of Taraji comically running half a mile in order to pee, with Pharrell’s song about running playing in the background is… telling… of the kind of audience it’s trying to target). Lion has not aged well since I saw it in September, and while Hidden Figures could follow in the same path, I actually much prefer it to the former and will continue to do so, just because it accomplishes its crowd-pleasing goals more successfully. It’s not deliberately cloying, for one, which always tends to irk me; furthermore, the actors inhibit their characters with such strength, grace and charisma that it’s nigh impossible not to fall for them. Taraji is exceptionally good in the lead role, never losing her bearing and wearing her pride for her mathematical talents on her sleeves. Octavia, meanwhile, is quieter, yet brimming with self-respect as she deals with her racist superior (Kirsten Dunst).
The star of the show, however, is Janelle Monáe, who probably read the script, realised she would be getting the least amount of screentime of the three main characters, and made it her mission to charm the pants off of us anyway. She is an irresistible, glittering diamond who effervesces even when she doesn’t need to, and I sincerely hope her film offers double now that she’s proven how insanely good she is as an actress. Just watch that courtroom scene and try not to get emotional. I don’t think it’s possible.