The latest in a long line of Rosamund Pike films where she plays independently minded women is Radioactive about Marie Curie the Polish scientist who might be better known for the charity in her name but was a brilliant, brilliant scientist who has never really been featured particularly to any high degree in films. Radioactive, based on a graphic novel of the same name seeks to end that although with the opening scene having her being rushed into hospital it seems that this will be a short appearance. But it takes in her remembering her past which included her mother’s death when she was a child suggesting her drive to succeed.
So we go back to 1893 in her lab which she shares with male scientists and filled with the sort of devices and gadgets that wouldn’t look out of place in Dr Who. But Curie is told she has to clear off by the all male board that run the lab space but soon meets Pierre Curie (Sam Riley) a scientist intrigued by her and her work and offers to share his lab. It’s an offer she can’t refuse as she has nowhere else and they soon start working and living together as romance blossoms. It’s a swift courtship which the film whizzes through and moves onto their discovering radium (‘Aren’t they bath salts?’ – Ed) and Polonium ( ‘And isn’t that a Polish sausage?’ – Ed) Radioactive is very much a #TimesUp film and here it’s no bad thing to celebrate the work of a such an influential female scientist and like many Hollywood films where the female is sidelined and underwritten it is Riley as her husband who suffers such a fate with his role rapidly diminished as the film progresses.
Directed by Marjane Satrapi the film employs some effective moments cross cutting with both positive (cancer cure, X-rays) and negative (Hiroshima) effects of their discovery and the film veers away from a chronological narrative. But Radioactive despite its near 2 hour running time still battles with ramming so much of a very full life into its running time – her husband’s death and her devastation is movingly conveyed, but crammed into the mix also is her affair, two Nobel prizes, her discoveries, vaguely racist opinions by her contempories as well as her pioneering work. Radioactive rightly portrays Currie as an extraordinary woman and Pike as normal excels in these roles of strong women (A Private War being her most recent) but overall the film is uneven but that shouldn’t put you off a woman whose contribution to science was exemplary.
Here’s the Radioactive trailer…..