Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Radioactive Review: A Dramatic Look At Marie Curie's Life And Accomplishments

Release date: July 24, 2020
Running time: 109 minutes
Starring: Rosamund Pike, Sam Riley, Anya Taylor-Joy

Radioactive is the story of the scientific and romantic passions of Marie Sklodowska-Curie (known as Marie Curie) and Pierre Curie, and the reverberation of their discoveries throughout the 20th century.  From the 1870s through to modern day, Radioactive is a journey through Marie Curie’s (Pike) enduring legacies--her passionate partnerships, scientific breakthroughs, and the consequences that follow.  Marie and Pierre Curie made many scientific breakthroughs, and in 1903, the pair jointly won the Nobel Prize in physics for their discovery, making Marie the first woman to win the esteemed prize.  However, Marie Curie's life was far more complicated, and messy, than I remembered in school and her discovery of radioactivity seemed to be a blessing and a curse.  

Radioactive is made by Rosamund Pike.  She completely transforms for her role as Curie, portraying her as a strong, independent, and driven scientist.  She was meticulous, thorough, and supremely confident, able to see things that others couldn't and she changed the world as a result.  This is a very different role for Pike and I'm glad that she was up to the challenge of portraying the famous scientist.  Pierre Curie is also wonderfully portrayed by Sam Riley, a brilliant but caring scientist and perfect foil for Marie.  These two make a wonderful pair and they have great chemistry on screen.  And it is really interesting to see their conflicting personalities and how well the two work together.

One thing that I really appreciated about this film is the way it portrayed the Curie's scientific experiments.  It really goes into the grit and hard work it took for them to make their discovery, from breaking radioactive ore, to carefully measuring the isolated materials.  And I also liked how the film fully explored Marie Curie.  It didn't stop at just her scientific accomplishments, but painted a full picture of a strong, liberated woman who knew what she wanted and didn't care what people thought.  And it goes past her scientific accomplishments to highlight events that happened to her later in life, ones that I had never learned about in school.

However, Radioactive tries to put context in the Curie's inventions by cutting to various results and consequences of the discovery of radiation.  It is a noble idea, but one that in practice just seems off.  It is weird to have a film in the 1800s suddenly cut to a century later and proceed as if nothing had happened.  And the way that the transitions happen can sometimes be messy.  And for a film that does a good job of chronicling her life, the ending of the film felt over-dramatized and off.  

Radioactive is powered by Pike's stellar performance and paints a full picture of the brilliant, strong-willed, and complicated scientist.  

Rent it.

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