A biopic, Hidden Figures was directed by Theodore Melfi to a screenplay by Melfi and Allison Schroeder. It is based on real characters and true events, depicted in a book of the same title, written by Margot Lee Shetterly. Hidden Figures tells the story of three African-American women during the early 1960s, working at NASA at a time when women, let alone dark-skinned, were anything but equal.
The cast includes Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monáe, Kevin Costner, Kirsten Dunst, Jim Parsons, Glen Powell and Mahershala Ali.
Henson portrays Katherine G. Johnson, a brilliant mathematician who, among her other achievements, calculated flight trajectories for Project Mercury. Octavia Spencer plays Dorothy Vaughan who teaches herself Fortran, and ends up supervising NASA’s Programming Department. Monáe plays Mary Jackson who goes to court to obtain permission for attending a segregated school; all so she may achieve an engineering degree.
What makes Hidden Figures work is that rather than use symbols and metaphors, the plot focuses on vignettes of strife; of moments that feel real, of anger, fear, bravery and love. Combine all this with excellent acting; never trespassing into melodrama, and you receive a memorable film. Kudos go also to the supporting cast, including Costner, Dunst and the others. Much like the work done at NASA, while the three leads may take the glory, the success of pulling such a story together, is team-work.