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Hidden Figures: True story adds up to an inspiring hit

 

By Damon Smith

Katherine Johnson (Taraji P Henson) and fellow mathematicians Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae) and Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) work in the segregated West Computing Group in Virginia. They are part of Nasa's concerted effort to put a man into space before the Soviets.

Al Harrison (Kevin Costner), director of the Space Task Group, desperately needs a mathematician in his team. Supervisor Vivian Mitchell (Kirsten Dunst) selects Katherine, the first African-American to work with Al's crack squad.

Many of the experts openly discriminate against Katherine and all of the toilets in the building are for whites only.

Al won't tolerate any distractions and loudly declares: "Here at Nasa, we all pee the same colour!"

Based on an inspirational true story, Hidden Figures is a crowd-pleasing drama, emboldened by sparkling performances from Henson, Monae and Spencer as women of fierce intelligence and pride, who doggedly overcome the obstacles thrown in their paths. Sterling support from Costner and Dunst add to the golden lustre.

Four stars

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