Janelle Monae stars in a scene from the movie "Hidden Figures." The Catholic News Service classification is A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG -- parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children. (CNS photo/Fox)
NEW YORK (CNS) -- The struggles of the civil rights era provide the backdrop for the appealing fact-based drama "Hidden Figures" (Fox 2000). Along with a personalized insight into the injustices that still prevailed in American society in the early 1960s, director Theodore Melfi's adaptation of Margot Lee Shetterly's book -- which centers on three extraordinarily gifted mathematicians working for NASA -- successfully re-creates the tension of the Cold War space race.
For all their genius, this trio of colleagues and close friends faced an uphill professional fight. That's because they were not only women in a field dominated by men, but African Americans living and working in pre-integration Virginia.
Their story is told primarily from the perspective of Katherine Goble (Taraji P. Henson), a "computer" (as the number crunchers were then known) whose career gets a boost when she's assigned to the prestigious unit tasked with working out the logistics of manned space flight. There she gradually wins the respect of her well-meaning but initially unenlightened boss, Al Harrison (Kevin Costner).