Unsung Heroes: A Hidden Figures review.

Directed by: Theodore Melfi.

Starring: Taraji P. Henson, Janelle Monáe, Octavia Spencer, Kevin Costner, Kirsten Dunst, Jim Parsons.

It is always an intriguing prospect to me to hear of a film based on true life events, they have the potential to carry a greater sense of gravitas and pique the interest a little more. There is of course also the possibility of, as Hollywood has a tendency of doing, employing ‘artistic license’ and changing the way events unfolded. This is something that is no different with Hidden Figures in some respects, it’s something that seems to come part and parcel of an historical dramatisation, but is the film any good despite these inaccuracies?

Three women, Katherine Goble, Dorothy Vaughn and Mary Jackson work at the Langley Research Centre, Mary as an aspiring engineer and Katherine & Dorothy in the West Area Computers division, an area whose workers are segregated. When Katherine is assigned to compute for The Space Task Group on the upcoming Friendship 7 launch to take astronaut John Glenn into earth orbit, not only must she face the challenge ahead but her, Dorothy & Mary must also face the prejudices of their own co-workers.

Excellent central performances are given by the principal cast of Henson, Monáe & Spencer, imbuing their roles with a strength & dignity befitting of the extraordinary people they portray. Support is also offered from the likes of Kevin Costner, Jim Parsons & Kirsten Dunst, all 3 delivering performances worthy of note with the wafer thin characterisation they are given, what they are given they deliver on though.

It is the case, as with most historical adaptations of real world events, of some artistic license being taken with certain events and a smart arsed critic taking umbrage with that feels a little cheap when levelled at this film. Various inaccuracies, some characters being fictitious amalgamations of several real life people and also inaccuracies of a chronological nature, when certain events portrayed actually took place should not overshadow telling a story that deserves to be told and to bring to light the stories of these extraordinary woman and the roles they played in history.

Hidden Figures is an enjoyable and inspirational film, it tells a story of note with strong performances from the assembled cast particularly the 3 female leads. It may have a very broad, populist approach to delivering its story but it does so very effectively.


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