Hidden Figures 2016 ****

Please

Is there an element of the despised ‘white saviour’ trope in Hidden Figures, Theodore Melfi’s popular drama about the black women behind many of the key calculations of the US space programme in the 1960’s? Possibly; there’s certainly big name support for the girls from Kevin Costner, Jim Parsons and Glenn Powell. But Hidden Figures can only play what’s in front of it, and the story of Katherine Gobel Johnson (Taraj P Henson), Dorothy Vaughn (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Moae) is inspiring enough to make such accusations churlish. The white characters are portrayed as well-meaning if rather insensitive; Hidden Figures has it’s focus firmly on the battles that the three women overcame on their own terms, and the help they got is only one factor in the equation. Spencer steals the show; her justification for stealing a library book tells you all you need to know about the film’s worldly attitude, and even if a few fictions creep in, Hidden Figures will make you wonder as to which other historical events are in need of having their credits reconsidered.

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