Radioactive is a visual love letter to the life and legend of female scientist Marie Curie. It really is no secret who Marie Curie was in history, to the point that even those that aren’t thoroughly versed in the Periodic Table would know her name.
In this film, Marie Curie is played effortlessly by the talented Rosamund Pike. Pike plays off Madame Curie as an independent, stubborn, determined, no-nonsense, tired and resilient woman. The film follows Curie throughout her years of her struggles for recognition and being taken seriously as a scientist, despite being a woman. Seeing Pike’s facial expressions, even when there is no dialogue, her body language speaks volumes and also made me feel incredibly in tune with Marie Curie’s emotions. Every set back, every obstacle, every challenge, I could feel it. I felt very frustrated when her peers were especially unhelpful and unkind towards her, both professionally and personally.
The film also highlights Marie Curie’s love life and her trials and tribulations of being a woman in love, as well as a mother. Nowadays, women do have it much easier (although a lot could still be improved) when juggling our professional and personal life. But one can only imagine how difficult it must have been back in the 1890’s to be a renown female scientist, a single mother and judged under the eyes of the general public who do not feel that she belongs, no matter what she does.
Despite being a film based on truth, director Marjane Satrapi takes a lot of artistic liberties with the telling of Marie Curie’s tale. Through the film, although based in the past, Radioactive manages to highlight both the good and the bad historical moments, as well as the machines we use today, all derived from Curie’s scientific discoveries, which I honestly found extremely clever.
It also was quite appealing and endearing to see Pierre Curie, played by charming and handsome Sam Riley, besotted with Marie, and to also witness Marie have a man on her side. The on-screen chemistry between Pike and Riley is incredibly believable and very natural (also seriously heartbreaking, but you’ll have to see it for yourself).
At the end of my viewing of Radioactive, I was in tears, not really for the love story part of her life, which the film does highlight, but more so the idea that had Marie Curie not been so cockblocked by her peers, imagine how much more she could have contributed to science and history. I highly recommend a viewing of Radioactive, as not only is it incredibly educational for the most part, but it is one of Pike’s best performances of her career and tells the story of a scientific legend that deserves to have her story told.