At a time when American politics has seemed more sexist, racially divisive and anti-science than it has done in many years, a film that celebrates the extraordinary achievements and contributions of three African-American women working for NASA in the early 1960s could hardly be more topical or relevant. The worthiness of the subject matter is beyond question, and while the general tone is broad and crowd-pleasing, the simple power of highlighting such criminally overlooked historical figures stands very much on its own merit.

The director Theodore Melfi, as with his previous film St Vincent, occasionally lets his preference for sentimentality get the better of him – there is nothing subtle or nuanced whatsoever about his approach, but when the factual story being presented is this important such things hardly matter. There are a few tricky moments in terms of its racial politics (the white saviour complex rears its ugly head at one point, when their boss “heroically” realises racism is wrong), but on the whole this film’s heart is very much in the right place.

A celebration of intersectional feminist scientific achievement...10
...via a very broad and straightforward movie biopic8
The generally sentimental and often quite clich├ęd tone6
Some well-intentioned but occasionally clumsy racial politics5
When the subject matter is this important, such criticisms can be overlooked9
Bechdel Test passes
  • Features more than one named female character
  • The female characters talk to each other
  • They talk about something other than men
Bechdel test failures
  • n/a
8Overall Score

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