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RADIOACTIVE gets 5/10 This woman’s work


Directed by Marjane Strapi

Starring Rosamund Pike, Sam Riley

5/10

The history of Professor Marie Curie is one that is oft told but little understood deeply, and a biopic is long overdue. As the first woman to be bestowed with a Nobel Peace Prize, first for physics and then for chemistry, she also remains the only person to have won a Nobel twice. Curie herself broke ground in science, for women, and for the medical world and hence the world at large, and as much as this is a story that the world needs to see onscreen, this rendition fails her legacy overall.

Professor Curie was, by all accounts, a fierce, feisty and phenomenal woman who deserves better than this film provides, sadly. Unflappable when faced with obstacles, her route through the man’s world of 1900’s Paris as a single Polish immigrant scientist was fraught with them. However, this is merely touched upon before the dashing Pierre Curie chances upon her in a predictable meet-cute, then is promptly and inaccurately portrayed to be her saviour. Please don’t take a feminist icon and then proceed to make her man save her. This is not the Curie we need, nor is it the one we know to be true. She was a woman who fought for her place in the scientific world and was renowned for her stoicism.

Rosamund Pike’s portrayal of Curie is inspiring given the hand she was dealt with an impossibly clunky script. Pike impeccably and unfailingly demonstrates our heroine’s unstoppable drive, as she adeptly and determinedly utilises her brilliance and genius to change our world forever. Sadly, the film’s focus remains determinedly fixed upon demonstrating the pitfalls of creation, rather than the feminist aspect of Curie’s life, far before feminism even had a name. This is a woman who was a scientist and discoverer first and foremost, a mother, a lover and a wife least of all.

Blessedly, director Marjane Strapi does pay tribute to Curie as a woman beyond the science, a sexual, whole being, one who enjoys and revels in love because without this aspect of her life, it would be not only a one dimensional fable but would not embrace all that women are. Women can be smart, strong, feisty, fierce, and enjoy their sexuality without it ever detracting from their great minds or accomplishments, just as it should be. Curie surely loved her husband and her subsequent lovers, but this is not the focus of the storyline, and nor should it be.

The first act does indeed focus on some rather stunning scenes whereby the science behind her discoveries are demonstrated at work, and the cinematography behind these make for glorious viewing. Unfortunately, the cinematography is consistently let down by dark edits intended for the small screen, which is where this was intended. An Amazon Prime production which was obviously never intended for cinematic release, the only hope for this hamfisted and clumsy rendition is that the story is picked up by another screenwriter and Professor Curie’s story is made more accessible to a modern and younger audience, who need this hashtag inspo more than ever right now.

NATALIE GILES

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