<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by Ted Melfi. Starring Taraji P Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monae, Kirsten Dunst, Jim Parsons, Mahershala Ali, Kevin Costner, Glen Powell
Running time: 2 hours 7 minutes
Hidden Figures is one of those untold stories about the unsung heroes who made the impossible come true. There’s nothing path breaking about the filmmaking, it’s the story that helps it achieve lift off.
The 1960s in many American states saw a time of segregation: blacks and whites were not to mingle and blacks were usually not given the opportunity to advance. Three black women – Katherine Johnson (Taraji P Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae) – working at NASA as low-level ‘computers’ want more for themselves and their people. Hidden Figures is a story about numbers that help get America into the space race with Russia but it is also about the real brains behind this achievement.
Hidden Figures is an interesting look into America’s past, its shameful history of segregation, but also the tireless struggles of people during the day to break through the barriers. Little things like separate coffee pots and bathrooms for blacks as well as the way they’re treated give an insight to the hardships of the times. But there were a few white people who were the first to break the biases and give humanity a chance. In this, Kevin Costner NASA director Al Harrison plays the central character as he places faith in math whiz Katherine and her ability to outsmart a whole bunch of white guys.
Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monae’s characters battle their own wars too, with dignity, wit, smarts and resourcefulness.
Sure this is a story where you know it’s all going to be good and everyone is basically nice. But the spirit and likeability of these actors elevates the story to a new level.