Radioactive Movie Review: An Electrifying Portrait of Marie Curie

Radioactive A wonderful portrait of a women scientist who broke the stereotype and the director approached with a feministic narrative.

In many ways, Radioactive is nothing more than a simple fictionalized biopic retracing major events in the life of Polish-born French scientist Marie Curie. This Radioactive movie review will take to the journey of this film’s merit and the story in depth. Before the Curie title, her maiden name was Marie Sklodowska. Franco-Iranian filmmaker-author, Marjane Satrapi is embarking this time on a period film with a little more restraint.

A woman scientist with a strong character, fighting to find a place in Paris during the early 1900s. Marie quickly meets her colleague, the scientist Pierre Curie played by Sam Riley. He offers her the opportunity to work together. Before moving forward in life, quickly linked by the same name following their marriage and the birth of their children. 

She was struck by widely omnipresent sexism and more particularly it affected her professional environment. Marie will not budge and will follow through with her ideas. Which later changes the face of the world, for better or for worse. She will discover in particular the existence of radium, an element lending its name to the title of the film, but also to the resulting radioactivity term.

Radioactive Film Review (2019)

A Women Who Changed the World by Scientific Genius

“If I have to explain my science to you, then you have not understood anything”. Marie Curie was not afraid to defend her pride, nor to claim what belonged to her. She is a scientific genius among the greatest in the history of humanity. For her contribution, she won two Nobel Prizes. One, shared, for research on radiation, and one in her name for the discovery of radium and polonium. She was not only the first woman to win a Nobel, but also, to this day, the only one to have received two Nobel Prizes in different categories. 

How can we tell the story of the progressive and modern life of this naturalized French-Polish woman? This movie presents everything without betraying her strength or obscuring the difficulties she faced, as a modern woman. Marjane Satrapi, the director, has done it brilliantly and portrayed the scientist with the latest Radioactive movie. Radioactive Movie review has been abundant on the internet and a lot of review says this is an electrifying portrait of the scientist. Apparently, we can say that this is a feminist biographical film with a very personal approach. It first released on 14 September 2019 and It came to theaters again on June 22, 2020, staring Rosamund Pike in the main role. 

Radioactive Film Review: Portraying the Early Life and Love of Marie Sklodowska

Radioactive shows Marie Sklodowska while she already lives and works in Paris. A young adult who found refuge in France after fleeing the Russian Empire. She seeks refuge due to the provocative condition of women which prevented women from pursuing higher education.

In the film, it is in the middle of the street that she meets Pierre Curie. After an exchange that she cuts short, she crosses paths with him again at a party. The latter, who already appreciates his work, offers him to join his laboratory. Not without warning him that she refuses to become his lover, Marie Sklodowska accepts his offer. She tried of being refused a place everywhere else since the eminent Gabriel Lippmann was reluctant to offer her enough place for his studies on radioactivity. 

However, quickly, a natural bond is born between Marie Sklodowska and Pierre Curie. He is seduced by her intelligence and her aplomb, while she feels accepted for who she is. She is a brilliant woman who does not want to belittle herself to spare egos. In this sense, Radioactive offers the portrait of a touching, egalitarian and complementary couple, and the alchemy operates between Rosamund Pike and Sam Riley.

Tender, respectful and involved, Pierre Curie was the great love of Marie Sklodowska-Curie. It can be measured in particular by the immense, devastating grief that runs through her when he accidentally dies. Alongside, the remains of her husband, alone in a subdued room, the great scientist lets her sadness explode, which shimmers the screen with green colors and blinding flashes. Eventually this scene becomes the most prominent scene in the movie.  

The Scientific Discovery and March for Noble Prize

While they started working together, Marie Sklodowska explains to Pierre Curie that she thinks she has found a new element that does not yet exist in the periodic table listing them. In 1898, by dint of effort and tons of pitchblende crushed, heated and distilled in a dangerous refining process, the couple finally discovered two new elements, radium and polonium. They are much more radioactive than uranium.

The effort is all the more incredible as the means at their disposal, a dusty and insecure workshop, were ridiculous. The scenes showing Rosamund Pike at work, carrying sacks of pitchblende which she then splits with an iron stick, until her hands are red and cheeks black, make you feel the hardness of the task.

In 1903, Pierre and Marie Curie, as well as their partner, Henri Becquerel, obtained the Nobel Prize in physics for this research on radiation, which the film decided to omit to focus the reward on the Curie couple. Thanks to him, the search for a cure for cancer jumped suddenly.

Weakened after a difficult pregnancy, Marie Curie cannot accompany her husband to Stockholm to collect their prize. The latter must also fight for the name of his wife to be mentioned, which was not the case. The film also offers one of its key scenes when it is greeted, after his trip to Sweden, by a furious wife because he would have delivered his acceptance speech in the first person. 

He had to wait until 1911 to receive a Nobel Prize dedicated to him. The Nobel in chemistry, for his discovery of radium and polonium. The deserved recognition of a job she had started long before being the wife and collaborator of Pierre Curie.

In Radioactive, the physicist does not hesitate to put her husband in his rightful place. It is she who is the more intelligent of the two. He has enough humility and common sense to accept it, while trying to teach him to let his guard down and accept, sometimes, a little help. A complex dynamic, which nestles in the bend of well-crafted dialogues.

Portraying A Woman Ahead of Her Time

Devastated by grief, Marie Curie seeks solace in the arms of Paul Langevin, the couple’s laboratory partner. Very badly takes it. The man is married, and their suggestive correspondence is revealed in the press. From a darling of science, a woman who breaks the scientific glass ceiling, she becomes an outcast. 

Where hateful trolls congregate in comments now, the anonymous and virulent criticisms of the physicist are placed directly under her window. “A woman who speaks of sexual pleasure, you understand well”, sweeps Marie Curie near her sister, even if the harassment of which she is the victim, in the end, affects her.

Rosamund Pike’s gaze through the window, landing on these dark figures who insult her and ask her to “return to her country”, is steeped in weariness and sadness. A violent scene that contrasts with the fact that his two daughters sleep peacefully in the adjacent room. 

If she has done everything to be as independent as possible, Marie Curie finds herself trapped by the same questions endured by any mother of a family. How to find a balance between her professional and private life? To what extent protect her daughters from intolerance and sexism, while instilling in them the same values ​​of freedom and daring that have always carried her? How to love a peer and not inevitably end up in his shadow? 

The second half of the film also explores Marie Curie’s relationship to parenthood. “You always have to think of something,” she said to her daughter Irene, who would follow in her footsteps afterwards, armed with the same strength of character.

One of the main challenges for the director was undoubtedly that of succeeding in captivating the crowds with the theme of science, which remains the common thread of her story. The exercise is quite successful, because of the story, although a little academic in its construction, is however energized by visual flashes born of pleasing finds, as well as a remarkable work on color. Take a good look at the treatment of green and the magical way it springs up amid dull settings or when faces sparkle. 

Some elegant dreamlike sequences are worth noting. But beyond the formal aspect, once again treated by a specialist in the field. It is another virulent criticism that marked us, in addition to the eternal debate of the place of women in society. Which will unfortunately continue to last a century later. While Pierre Curie launches into an idealistic discourse steeped in good intentions with regard to the medical and technological advances that radium could bring, the narration offers itself a few ellipses propelling us to key dates corresponding to major catastrophes of our time. History, partly caused by this element, but mainly by the stupidity of the man.

Or how man has preferred to use scientific breakthrough sowing destruction and death to satisfy his thirst for power. As a result, the nuclear bomb has caused more deaths than Brachytherapy has saved lives to date. An appellation born from the discoveries of Marie Curie, still allowing effective treatment of cancer today and in this sense, an obviously oh so important battle won in the face of this terrible disease.

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