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Friday, May 14, 2021

Now showing: Radioactive (M)

Luke McWilliams gives his review of the 2019 British drama, Radioactive, starring Rosamund Pike as Marie Curie.

In 1934, an elderly Marie Curie (Rosamund Pike) collapses in her Parisian laboratory. In hospital, Marie flashes back to 1893 where she is continuously rejected for funding. Soon, Marie meets handsome fellow scientist Pierre Curie (Sam Riley).

Adapted from the 2010 graphic novel, the movie uses more dramatic licence as opposed to a straight biography. Radioactive is a rich production; beautiful framing, rich colours (predominately green) against an eerie score utilising a theremin that invokes the odd, unknown supernatural sci-fi ambience of 1950s movies. Scenes of imaginative surrealism add to the feeling of being on the precipice of the unknown, having discovered a phenomenon with questionable applications, and unimaginable effects on the world.

While Marie is shown to be hampered in her career due to her gender, she is played as being needlessly objectionable, almost purposefully self-sabotaging her professional and private life. Marie behaves like the radiated particles she has discovered: they don’t act like they are expected to. As Pierre explains, Marie threw a stone in the water, but she cannot control the toxic ripples. Along with her discovery of radioactivity, we see how her personal choices negatively affect her, the people around her, and generations throughout history. While Radioactive does touch on the benefits of radioactivity, it comes too late in the day and fails to balance out the toxic terrors that the movie alludes to throughout.

Verdict: A beautiful looking and well-acted movie with confused messaging regarding Marie Curie’s life and its fallout. 3 stars.

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