Hidden Figures


D: Theodore Melfi

20th Century Fox/Fox 2000/Levantine/TSG (Peter Chernin, Donna Gigliotti, Theodore Melfi, Jenno Topping & Pharrell Williams)

US 2016

127 mins


W: Theodore Melfi & Allison Schroeder [based on the book by Margot Lee Shetterley]

DP: Mandy Walker

Ed: Peter Teschner

Mus: Hans Zimmer

Taraji P. Henson (Katherine Goble Johnson), Octavia Spencer (Dorothy Vaughan), Janelle Monáe (Mary Jackson), Kevin Costner (Al Harrison), Kirsten Dunst (Vivian Mitchell), Jim Parsons (Paul Stafford), Glen Powell (John Glenn), Mahershala Ali (Jim Johnson)

Hidden Figures tells the true story of the African-American women whose work for NASA in the early 1960's proved integral to the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union, triumphing over the adversity of both racial segregation and attitudes towards women at the time.

The story follows the lives of three mathematician friends, Katherine Goble, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson during their careers at NASA, with the main focus on Katherine Goble, in the big chair at NASA's top brass, but her efforts are not taken seriously simply because of her gender and skin colour, but she still proves her place amongst the elite despite not being privy to confidential information withheld from her.

As a side note, the film also follows the paths of Dorothy Vaughan, a supervisor without title for the black staff at NASA who proved her worth by studying computer programming for the missions and Mary Jackson, who battled for legal precedence to study at an all-white school and achieve her dream of being an engineer.

The film has a very important message to deliver, without getting bogged down in politics and instead focusing on the humanity behind the affected people. It probably helps if you know a little about the Mercury 7 space programme, but it's not entirely necessary. The trio of leads, played by Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monáe, all deliver fantastic performances, while Kevin Costner gives one of his finest portrayals for the best part of two decades for his role as NASA's head of operations, who sees past the colour barrier to the main goal which lies ahead.

The film's running time does teeter towards the long side, but there isn't really a moment which could be cut out, though the use of modern songs on the soundtrack does make it feel a little anachronistic and over-dramatised. Still, it has to be said that these ladies really did have the Right Stuff.


Hidden Figures
Hidden Figures