You’ve probably never heard of Katherine Goble, Dorothy Vaughan or Mary Jackson. Neither had I. And that’s the reason Hidden Figures is so effective in its goal to tell this untold story.
Katherine (Taraji Henson), Dorothy (Octavia Spencer) and Mary (Janelle Monae) are three women who worked at NASA during the 60’s. This was the time of the great space race between America and Russia, the race to get a man into space. Amongst the problems of mass, acceleration, trajectories and other big words I don’t understand our heroines have another problem. They are black women in 1960’s America.
This would be a great set up for any film but the fact that Hidden Figures is based on true events boggles the mind even more. In the 1960’s America was in the midst of segregation and with this came its own list of problems for these women such as separate bathrooms, water fountains and bus seats. Let’s take a break from the film for a moment to just be amazed that not too long ago this was considered normal in America! For fear of becoming too political, what with current events, we’ll leave it there but it’s certainly a fascinating circumstance to explore.
And explore we do, through the lives of our three protagonists but mainly Katherine. She is brought on board to run various calculations in the days just before NASA got their first computer to launch John Glenn into space. Taraji Henson gives a great performance with one scene in particular enough to take your breath away. From their very first scene all three actresses establish themselves, instantly you know the kind of women they are. From that moment on they play off one another like old friends, the chemistry rife between them.
If all this sounds a little dark and not really your cup of tea then you can rest assured that this film is actually one of the best feel good films of recent years. Not only is it empowering it’s just great fun. To reinforce this it’s a colourful affair and the matching soundtrack is perfect.
The romance element that is only touched on slightly doesn’t feel that necessary but it’s enjoyable all the same. It’s nice to learn more about Katherine’s personal life. The film can be a bit twee at times but this just fits perfectly with the overall style of the telling. Honestly, I’m just trying to pick fault now so as not to appear overly in love with this film.
Hidden figures is an absolute gem of a movie and if it doesn’t leave you feeling on top of the world with a big smile on your face by the time the credits roll then it’s entirely possible that you could be Satan. See a priest. And then see Hidden Figures again.
written by Bradley Allen