NEW TO AMAZONE PRIME! For me, Marjane Satrapi achieved GOAT status when she directed a film based on a comic book she wrote entitled Persepolis in 2007. Obviously in the 13 years between now and then she has done many other things, including directing The Voices, which is also fantastic and should be seen if you haven’t already. This time around, Satrapi is directing a script by Jack Thorne based on Lauren Redniss’ graphic novel, Radioactive.
At the most base level, Radioactive is a Marie Curie biopic. However, like all great biopics, it manages to be much more than that. Rosamund Pike stars as Madame Curie in the film that details her and her husband Pierre (Sam Riley)’s work on the discovery of Radium. It also explores Curie’s relationships with Pierre, her sister, her children, and all those around her. It additionally explores the effects that Madame Curie’s discoveries had on society.
This is what makes the film much more interesting than most biopics of important historical figures. We see a child with cancer in a hospital in the ’50s, about to undergo radiation. We see the nuclear bomb tests at The Nevada Test Site around the same time. We see the devastation of Chernobyl in 1986. Seeing the negative effects of a scientific discovery that was intended to serve a good purpose adds a unique perspective that most films of a similar ilk don’t have.
“…explores the effects that Madame Curie’s discoveries had on society.”
The best part of the film other than the storyline is the performances. Ever since Gone Girl, I have found Rosamund Pike a force to be reckoned with. She immerses herself in the devil-may-care terseness of Madame Curie with perfect execution. Anya Taylor-Joy plays Curie’s daughter Irene. She doesn’t have much screen time but the scenes with Taylor-Joy and Pike together are fantastic.
Sam Riley’s portrayal of Sam Riley is sweet and heartbreaking. Across the board, the acting is top-notch. Another aspect of the film which is much-appreciated is the scientific accuracy of the experiments and events. A lot of research went into the film on behalf of Satrapi and her team to make sure this was the case. the goal was to be as faithful to the real Marie Curie’s discoveries as possible.
There have been so many lackluster biopics out in the world that it’s understandable that one might be hesitant going into one, but Radioactive is never boring or tedious, but it’s also never off-the-mark with historical accuracy either. It’s a tightrope that many directors of biopics often fall from with a great calamity. Fortunately, this film doesn’t fit into that category. It offers a unique twist on the biopic without losing its faithfulness to the source material of Curie’s life and works. I could certainly be speaking too soon but I would not be surprised if Rosamund Pike is nominated for an Oscar for her performance. I think it’s totally deserved for the role.
Please see Radioactive if you are at all interested in science. Even if you’re not interested in science, you may enjoy it from a feminist perspective. What’s great is that you don’t even need either of those reasons to enjoy it. It is just a great movie without any possible gimmickry I could lend to it. Watch it as soon as you get the chance!
"…we see the devastation of Chernobyl in 1986"