Set in the 60s, when the entire white community is prejudiced against the `coloured’, three incredibly talented and dedicated African-American mathematicians, Katherine G. Johnson (Taraji), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia) and Mary Jackson (Janelle) serve as the brain-force at NASA. And, they successfully help launch astronaut John Glenn into orbit.
Back in the 60s in Virginia, it was bad enough if you are a woman; if you’re `black’ then God forbid. Hidden Figures is the incredible story about three extraordinary coloured women-mathematicians who overcome gender and race bias to make space history.
The narrative is simple, even Utopian in parts. The personal and professional equations between Katherine, Janelle and Dorothy provides for two separate experiences. When the women are driving to work or bonding in a personal capacity, their girlie banter evokes laughter, shows up their frailties and brings to the fore typical chick-flick emotions.
At the space station though, the atmosphere is in sharp contrast. These same women are resilient. They slog feverishly on the calculations for the launch and re-entry of US’ first space program. It’s these portions that also give you a chance to brush up on aspects of NASA history. It is inspiring to watch the true story of these three "human computers", making calculations `faster than you can move your pencil.’ The ringside view of the racial tensions of the Civil Rights era when separate bathrooms, libraries and even coffee pots were the norm for those with dark skin, accentuates how tough these Negro women had when compared to the white folk.
The script is more partial to Katherine because she works directly with the team that is set to launch Glenn into orbit. Her mathematical brain earns her Al Harrison (Kevin Costner), the Chief supervisor's trust and he makes her a part of key-decisions. Dorothy and Janelle’s tracks also have you invested because they are the underdogs.
As far as the viewer goes, the story dates back to the 60s, but when you catch the tributes paid to the the real Johnson, Vaughan, and Jackson during the credit roll, you know that this story of triumph needed to be told, right here, right now.