Marie Curie (Rosamund Pike) won the Nobel Prize --- TWICE! The first time in 1903, she and her husband Pierre Curie (Sam Riley) won the award in physics for their discovery of radioactivity. The second time in 1911, Marie won in chemistry. RADIOACTIVE brings this amazing account of the brilliant Marie Curie to life.
Polish-born Marie Sklodowska is one of only 23 women in the science faculty of 4,000 at the Sorbonne in Paris. She’s a genius in her field --- demanding, outspoken --- and currently without a lab in which to work because of her gender and her stubbornness. She meets Pierre Curie who insists she share his space. With nowhere else to go, she reluctantly accepts, but insists on taking a backseat to no one.
Pierre has read her papers and recognizes her brilliance. She, too, has done her homework regarding his work. What begins as a working relationship turns into a solid marriage based on true love and mutual respect. After winning the Nobel Prize in 1903, Pierre is killed in a tragic accident, leaving Marie to carry on her work while raising their two daughters.
Her reputation is almost destroyed by an illicit affair with a married co-worker and long-time friend, Paul Langevin (Aneurin Barnard). Paul worked alongside Pierre and Marie for years, so it was only natural for Marie to turn to Paul following Pierre’s untimely death. But in early 20th century --- even in Paris --- this relationship is scorned, and Paul is forced to walk away.
RADIOACTIVE is based on Lauren Redniss’ graphic novel “RADIOACTIVE: MARIE AND PIERRE CURIE: A TALE OF LOVE AND FALLOUT”. The director, Marjane Satrapi, whose own graphic novel, “PERSEPOLIS”, about her upbringing in Iran, was adapted into an animated version and nominated for an Oscar in 2008. Spanning the life of Marie Curie from 24 to 67 and even beyond to reflect upon her discoveries and how they changed the world, RADIOACTIVE is a testament to Marie’s strengths and unwillingness to yield.
Even after winning two Nobel Prizes, she still struggled to make her voice heard and get the funding she needed to secure a mobile X-ray machine. Working closely with her daughter, Irène (Anya Taylor-Joy) --- who also won her own Nobel Prize --- they were able to save many soldiers during WWI who were needlessly having limbs amputated.
Though RADIOACTIVE is only one hour and 49 minutes, Satrapi and screenwriter Jack Thorne manage to include moments depicting the effects of Marie and Pierre’s findings, including an atomic test site and a young boy in a hospital undergoing radiotherapy.
Ultimately though, RADIOACTIVE is a love story. And not only the love between Marie and Pierre, but more importantly Marie’s love of science. Their discovery of radium and polonium, two new scientific elements, changed the world. Her genius is on full display and it serves as a reminder of how women were discriminated against then --- and still are today.
Pike gives an impressive performance. She’s formidable, yet funny and even alluring. Her transformation into Curie is remarkable, as well as the aging process she’s put through. She and Riley have wonderful chemistry which makes RADIOACTIVE all the more intriguing and believable.
As we all know, I am a huge fan of period pieces, especially ones about strong women. And we should all learn as much as we can about the exceptional Marie Curie. The film will be available on Amazon’s Prime Video July 24th.
Opinion: See It Now!
In 1943 an Oscar-nominated movie entitled MADAME CURIE starred Greer Garson as Marie Curie, the Polish scientist who collaborated with her French husband Pierre on the discovery of two new elements. If you missed that film and are a bit shaky on the Curies’ accomplishments in science, a new picture is available called RADIOACTIVE, starring Rosamund Pike as Marie Curie.
Marie is the first woman to win a Nobel Prize (1903 for Physics, along with Pierre and another man) and the first person to win a second Nobel Prize (1911 for Chemistry). She is a remarkable presence in the scientific world, and Pike delivers an outstanding performance, capturing Marie’s knowledge and determination, as well as her deep love for Pierre, played by Sam Riley.
Maria Skłodowska and Pierre Curie meet in Paris in the late 19th century. They agree to work together on what will be their discovery of polonium and radium. Later they find that radium has a positive effect on cancerous tumors, but the disastrous effects of radium are not immediately evident to them, even as Pierre suffers from a chronic and obviously serious cough.
That 1943 film, MADAME CURIE, was nominated for seven Academy Awards, and while RADIOACTIVE is not likely to garner that kind of acclaim, it is at least a relatively in-depth look at Marie Curie’s devotion to her craft and to her family. When Pierre is killed in an accident, Pike renders a sorrowful, soul-searching reaction as he lay in his coffin prior to the funeral. It is a gut-wrenching display of emotion from Pike who researched Marie’s life extensively to prepare for the role.
Marie Curie also endured ostracism from the male-dominated science community at the time, largely from Sorbonne Professor Lippmann (Simon Russell Beale). But she would not be dissuaded, and ultimately prevailed. Again, Pike displays the grit of this pioneering woman who eschews monetary reward in lieu of discoveries benefitting mankind, including the use of X-ray machines to diagnose WWI soldiers who were suffering unnecessary limb amputations for otherwise minor injuries.
Thanks to their fine performances, Pike and Riley exude what can only be described as total compatibility between a husband and wife. Amidst all the attention and turmoil in their lives, they raise two daughters, Irène (Ariella Glaser at age 11, Anya Taylor-Joy at age 18), and Ève (Isabella Miles at age 4, Cara Bossom at age 11).
Iranian-born director Marjane Satrapi, an Oscar nominee for her animated film PERSEPOLIS (2007), injects scenes from 1945 (the Enola Gay dropping the atom bomb on Hiroshima) and 1986 (Chernobyl disaster) as reminders that the Curies’ scientific finds had deleterious effects, as well as benefits, to mankind.
RADIOACTIVE will sufficiently hold the viewer’s attention thanks to Pike’s exceptional turn. The film will be available on Amazon’s Prime Video July 24th.
Opinion: Mild See It Now!