Hidden Figures

Hidden Figures

Theodore Melfi (2016)

121min
PG Certificate
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Review

Our Score
Three unsung heroes of the 1960s Space Race are given their moment in the sun here. Why their story is particularly inspiring is because they were African-American women who, as well as calculating angles of re-entry, had to jump through hoops at Nasa when racial segregation was still a fact of life. Every day, maths whizz Katherine G Johnson (Taraji P Henson) must cross the grounds at Langley Research Center to use the "colored ladies room" in a literal running gag. Though it's not inherently a laughing matter, director Theodore Melfi (St Vincent) avoids beating a drum. He conveys the absurdity while honouring the can-do spirit of these ladies, who include Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe) and Dorothy Vaughan (Oscar-nominated Octavia Spencer), to make their plight more involving. Mary goes to court for the right to further her career while Dorothy swots up on modern computing so that her department of number-crunchers won't be disbanded. The portrayal of their white colleagues (through fictionalised characters) is a little too pat, with only Katherine's boss (Kevin Costner) showing any open-mindedness. Still, this presses all the right buttons for a blast of enlightening, upbeat entertainment.

Summary

As the space race reaches fever pitch in the early 1960s, a trio of female African-American mathematicians attempt to overcome prejudice and find work with NASA. Their remarkable skills prove vital in getting an astronaut into orbit and bringing him safely back to Earth, but to realise their potential they must overcome deep-seated prejudice in the space programme and society as a whole. Fact-based drama, starring Taraji P Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monae and Kevin Costner.

Cast & Crew

Katherine G Johnson Taraji P Henson
Dorothy Vaughan Octavia Spencer
Mary Jackson Janelle Monae
Al Harrison Kevin Costner
Vivian Mitchell Kirsten Dunst
Paul Stafford Jim Parsons
Colonel Jim Johnson Mahershala Ali
Levi Jackson Aldis Hodge
John Glenn Glen Powell
Director Theodore Melfi
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Other Information

Language: EnglishColourTheatrical distributor: 20th Century FoxAvailable on: DVD and Blu-rayReleased on: 17 Feb 2017
Drama