It’s about time we heard about this. Good news is rare. Sensational stories rise to the forefront and claim journalistic integrity in favor of immediacy all the time.Fortunately, audiences love a good underdog tale and will go see this plucky film that takes a few of the world’s current heaviest issues and throws them on-screen in a timeline-driven showdown that somehow maintains the snappy, light tone of a Saturday morning tv special without betraying the severity in the series of events.The plot pacing jolts a bit across the timeline, but the 1960’s color palette in costuming and decor allows for gorgeous screen candy in symmetrical retro shots. The soundtrack time-stamps the era and remains lighthearted while the powerful, true story plays out.The flaw in these three main characters, these Hidden Figures from history, is that they have no flaws. The tragedy of having a film with angelic protagonists is that that level of idealism is unattainable, less relatable. Audiences crave characters who remind them of themselves, offer survival tips, and can still win despite their human frailties.Perhaps here, however, the truth of the majority voice in those tragic times in America’s history was more than enough conflict for audiences to handle. Our three heroines deal with the plague of prejudice and discrimination at every turn at work. They bow and bless while others stare and judge and ridicule. Co-workers slap signs that read “colored” on bathrooms and coffee pots and buildings. They are already treated as lower class citizens as women, but adding race tension doubles their trouble. NASA needed these talented women for their innate skills that helped the US catch up in the space race.The antagonists, white bosses of both genders, snap and shoosh and demand and lord over all of those who they deem lesser, but they slowly learn to respect the three main figures and eventually to accept them. Kevin Costner’s character is really the only one with an arc. He says the oddly satisfying line, “At NASA, we all pee the same color.” People know but rarely put into practice the truth that human decency should not have to be earned or determined by color or reserved for the good, but offered because one is human.
In the end, Hidden Figures oozes with these moral lessons, down-to-earth wisdom, and math-smart pizzazz.