4 stars
There’s something very appealing, and very satisfying, about the precision of Hidden Figures. This consummate studio film hits all the notes you’d hope it to hit in an inspiring story of survival and achievement.
It’s more than feel good, it’s feel hygge as a Danish friend would say. There’s something very cosy about spending a couple of hours in the company of startlingly bright people trying to better themselves, and better their people in the process. It is in stark contrast to the political world we find ourselves in today, and that need, that hygge-ness surely resonates well beyond the screen.

It’s 1961 and three black women work for N.A.S.A. and being 1961, and being segregated Georgia, being black and women, their lives are spent pushing themselves uphill in the hope that the space programme will take them seriously, not the least because they are phenomenally talented people. When the U.S. is kicked into second place by the Russians, and the government in the shape of John F. Kennedy decides to leap-frog the Reds and put a man on the moon, it’s all hands on deck. Even those belonging to black women.

Hidden Figures has made a mark, notably for the ensemble performance of its lead women, led by Octavia Spencer. They’re extremely good, and extremely watchable. But the film has also climbed above the parapet because of Theodore Delfi’s subtle yet talented direction. He achieved similar levels of hygge with Bill Murray’s St Vincent. Here he takes his themes to a broader canvas and a much larger story, yet the pleasure still resides in how he handles the smaller details; the women’s (the ‘figures’) reaction to Kirsten Dunst’s silent racism or Kevin Costner’s colour-blindness. Delfi’s treatment of their bootstrap attitude to cutting through the social nonsense of the day is no less engaging.

This classy film is very much the sum of its classy parts – Delfi as director and writer elicits terrific performances from the entire cast who are in turn supported by Australian Mandy Walker’s elegant cinematography plus a toe-tapping score from Hans Zimmer and Pharrell Williams. The result is more than just another biopic (as fascinating as that is), but a welcome comment on the absolute imperative of fulfilling your destiny, no matter what the rest of the world may think. Because without you, history will never be made (and doesn’t that make you feel just a little bit hygge?)


Previewed at Event Cinemas, Sydney, on 6 February 2017

Octavia Spencer
Taraji P. Henson
Janelle Monae
Kevin Costner
Kirsten Dunst

Theodore Delfi

Theodore Delfi
Alison Schroeder




127 minutes

February 16, 2017
Hidden Figures (2016) on IMDb
Stacks Image 21553
Stacks Image 21556