Radioactive is a 2019 film starring Rosamund Pike as Marie Curie. It was directed by Marjane Satrapi.
Rosamund Pike first came on my radar in the movie Doom and then again in Gone Girl, although she’s been in several other movies and has many other credits to her name. In addition to being a director, Marjane Satrapi is also a comics artist of some interesting sounding and award-winning works. Her first film was an animated adaptation of her book, ‘Persepolis’, an autobiographical account of growing up in Iran.
This film is a biopic about Marie Curie, a name (hopefully) familiar to most of us since childhood. She’s pioneered work and research in radioactivity and won not one, but two Nobel Prizes. The movie was adapted from another graphic novel, ‘Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie: A Tale of Love and Fallout’ by the American artist Lauren Redniss.
The influence of the graphic novel can clearly be seen in Marie’s dreamscapes. Particularly during her grief after Pierre’s death. The visualizations are gorgeously rendered and evoke not only the sense of loss but the sense of being unmoored. It’s visible in subtler ways as well, like the imagery of her always holding a small, glowing green vial like a talisman.
While ostensibly about her life, the movie also dives into future scenes demonstrating the impact of her work. From medical applications to nuclear weapons, the scope of the influence her work has on the world is immense.
The movie seems to have garnered mixed reviews. I found Pike’s performance very convincing and enjoyed the lens through which Marie Curie was painted. I understand that some critics maintain that characterizations were false and that the film contained inaccuracies. That didn’t detract from the enjoyment of the movie for me – the embellishments helped form a cohesive narrative and portrayed her as a brilliant and driven woman. Thematically, it did a good job of getting that message across.
For a more accurate picture of her life, I suppose one would have to read a combination of biographies. Two that I’ve added to my own reading list are:
More interesting books about Marie Curie can be found here: https://bookshop.org/lists/books-about-marie-curie