Hidden Figures ⭐⭐⭐

Laying somewhere in between, this film incorporates elements of Selma for context and gravitas, but is more like The Help as the tone is lighter and more feel-good to appeal to a broad mainstream audience. Based on the true story of African-American women scientists and mathematicians working for NASA during the Space Race in early 60s in segregated America and the invaluable but unacknowledged contribution they made, the film tackles both racism and sexism in one narrative swoop while trying to make maths look exciting and sexy, but the result leans towards the conventional and predictable: holding back the worst bits of zealous gung-ho-ism but slipping into an oversentimentalized version of 60s America from time to time. Which means it is left to the performances of the main trio of actresses to sell the worthy narrative and save the film from cringing over-earnestness – and this they certainly do in ample style. Taraji P. Henson shows her range and star power in a subtle performance but Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monae also have their moments in their respective supporting roles; leaving the non-African American cast, which includes Kirsten Dunst, Jim Parsons and Kevin Costner (looking very comfortable as another bespectacled JFK era public servant with a similar sounding name to his previous Jim Garrison), understandably in lesser and more understated roles, almost to the point of being plot devices and caricatures.

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