This film tells the story of a group of black female mathematicians who worked on the early NASA space programme. This being a time when the US was still racially segregated, the women had to endure “coloured only” bathrooms and even segregated water fountains while contributing to the space race with the Soviet Union. The film focuses on three women in particular, who are friends. Katherine Johnson is the most brilliant mathematician, drafted in to help NASA calculate flight trajectories in an age when computers were in their infancy and most calculations had to be done by hand.
The movie is set in December 1952, initially in New York. Therese is a young girl working in a department store who has ambitions to be a photographer, and has drifted into a relationship with Richard, who wants her to come away with him on a trip to Europe, and has stated his intention to marry her. One day in the department store Therese sees a confident, beautiful middle aged woman called Carol (Cate Blanchett), and is intrigued by her.