Hidden Figures is an American biographical drama film, based on the non-fiction book of the same name by Margot Lee Shetterly, starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monae.
The film tells the true story of mathematicians Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughn (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monte) who are all African American women working in the segregated West Area Computers division at the NASA Research Center in Langley during the 1960’s.
With the race to beat the Soviet Union for supremacy in spaceflight capability, Katherine is unexpectedly reassigned to be a human computer for the Space Task Group, reporting into director Al Harrison (Kevin Costner) who leads the charge to put a man into Earth orbit and return him safely.
Katherine finds it hard to keep up with the demands placed upon her and the racist treatment she must deal with which is also true for her friends Dorothy and Mary as they try to achieve their ambitions at NASA.
As it becomes clear that the Soviet Union are pulling ahead in the space race, the bosses at NASA are forced into facing reality, if they want to win the race they must all work together as equals.
Director Theodore Melfi, who also co-wrote the script with Allison Schroeder, tackles a largely unknown aspect of NASA history and achieves in making it a feel-good and inspirational story.
The film is further elevated by the three leads whose performances bring warmth, fun and likeability to their characters as the viewer roots for them to succeed and overcome the segregation they have to endure.
The supporting cast of Jim Parsons, Kirsten Dunst and Kevin Costner are equally as good portraying their characters not as hateful figures but of individuals who have little reason to question or acknowledge the segregation that takes place unless they come face to face with it.
We are also treated to a charming performance from Mahershala Ali as military man Jim Johnson in the film’s romantic subplot whose on-screen chemistry with Henson makes the relationship between the two convincing.
The film manages to capture a strong sense of the 1960’s with its use of music, costume design and visuals which are blended with archival footage from the decade.
With its strong direction and acting alike Hidden Figures is able to tell an important story in a way that will captivate, entertain and inspire its audience.