Director: Theodore Melfi
Cast: Taraji P. Henson, Jim Parsons, Janelle Monáe, Kevin Costner, Octavia Spencer, Kirsten Dunston
Country of Origin: USA 2017 126 mins. (PG)
Released by 20th Century Fox
The 1960s, the Cold War, NASA, the American space programme and the race to beat the Russians and launch John Glenn (Glenn Powell) into space.
'Hidden Figures' is the extraordinary story of Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughn (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe), three African-American women working at NASA who were the brilliant minds behind Project Mercury. They maybe bright, innovative and essential to America's space programme but when Kathrine Johnson needs a pee it's a 20 minute hike to the 'Coloured Ladies Room' and if she wants a cup of coffee it comes from a separate pot - it's the brutal humiliation of segregation and office manager Vivian Mitchell's (Kirsten Dunst) ever ready with a put down, know your place quip. Jealousy and prejudice are the accepted norm and few have a problem with it, including the Head of NASA's Space Task Force Al 'Look beyond the numbers 'Harrison (Kevin Costner). Ironically the all white staff can't grasp his mantra but for the three coloured ladies it's logical progression and so begins their unprecedented climb to success and a fight for the right to be educated and accepted as equals. Katherine Johnson became the first woman to be part of NASA's Flight Research Division, Dorothy Vaughn was appointed supervisor of the West Area Computing Unit and Mary Jackson became NASA's first black female engineer.
An extraordinary, little known, feel good story and the lead players are terrific. Ken Costner does a 'Here at NASA we all pee the same colour' as he wrenches the 'Coloured Ladies Room' sign off the wall but the jealousy, arrogance and prejudice lingers.