Film Review: Radioactive

SNACK at The Glasgow Film Festival 2020

Radioactive

Eclectic director Marjane Satrapi (Persepolis, The Voices) takes a potentially dry period biopic and injects it with a sense of dramatic energy and visually-distinctive personality.

The film explores the life of Marie Curie (Rosamund Pike) who along with her husband Pierre (Sam Riley) changed science as the world knew it with their discovery of the element radium. There’s a compelling tug of war going on in the drama between the fact that their ‘chemistry of the imponderable’ is radical, hopeful and beneficial to the advancement of science and the possibility that it could be used to cause great destruction.

Satrapi illustrates this essential issue by juxtaposing the turn of the century events with flash-forwards to the times when humanity used the technology their discoveries made possible, from cancer treatment to the atom bomb. And the film wrestles pretty well with that morality of scientific discovery for its own sake. It’s less successful when trying to wrangle with the marital and parental drama, coming across as rather undercooked in those scenes. But when it focuses on the science and the morally complex, great and terrible repercussions thereof, it does a solid job of showcasing what makes the Curies such important figures. 

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