Review: Radioactive

Rosamund Pike in Radioactive

Radioactive is the true story of Marie Curie, the discoverer of radium and polonium, winner of two Nobel Prizes, and a pioneering researcher into radioactivity.

Radioactive stars Rosamund Pike as Marie Curie in a demanding role that covered about 30 years of the scientist’s public and personal life. Pike’s portrayal of the prickly, passionate Curie is fascinating.

Rosamund Pike and Sam Riley in 'Radioactive'
Marie and Pierre

According to the bio on Wikipedia, the film covers the facts quite well. We see Marie’s marriage to Pierre Curie (Sam Riley), the birth of her two daughters, the accolades and the villification that were part of her life, and her relentless pursuit of science.

I learned some things I hadn’t know about her, such as her affair with the married Paul Langevin (Aneurin Barnard) after her husband died. I learned about her hauling portable X-ray machines around the battlefields of WWI with her daughter Irène (at age 18 Anya Taylor-Joy) to save many lives.

Radioactive was directed by Marjane Satrapi with a screenplay by Jack Thorne based on the book by Lauren Redniss. It had moments showing both the promising and horrifying future that Marie Curie couldn’t have known about because she died in 1934. Hell, she slept with a tube of radium in her bed, never admitting what it could do to her. These moments showed things like the bombing of Hiroshima, the use of radiation to treat cancer, atom bomb testing in Nevada, and the meltdown at Chernobyl. It was accompanied by a new agey soundtrack by Philip Glass.

Marie Curie was a brilliant scientist, a take no BS woman in a man’s world who was smarter than all of them. She insisted on scientific proof but was irrationally afraid of hospitals. She achieved things that no other person male or female has yet achieved. She was the first woman at many achievements.

Because I learned so much about Marie Curie from this film I’m recommending it. It has its flaws and isn’t the best film of the year, but it tells a story worth knowing. The film is streaming on Prime Video.

Poster for Radioactive

Watch the trailer.

If you’ve seen the film, your comments would be appreciated.

Author: Virginia DeBolt

After many years as an educator and writer, Virginia retired from working life. She's always loved a good movie or TV show and wants to use her free time to talk about them with you now. She's Old Ain't Dead!

2 thoughts on “Review: Radioactive”

  1. As you say in your review, this historical and biographical drama has its flaws.

    One flaw, which runs through the whole movie from the beginning to the end, is fatal: the story is set in France, where most people speak French, but in this drama all characters (including Marie Curie) speak English!

    This choice of language is a huge violation of historical truth! When Marie meets with her sister, they should of course speak Polish, but like everyone else they speak English!

    The actors in this movie are so far removed from the French language that they do not even know how to pronounce the name of the main character. They call her Madame Curry! In French her last name is Curie, which has a different sound.

    Apparently, not a single person on the movie set bothered to find out how to say the name of the main character!

    The role of Madame Curie should have been played by a Polish actress with knowledge of French, and the French characters (such as her husband Pierre) should have been played by French actors who could speak their native language. Unfortunately, this was not done.

    Apparently, English is now so dominating a language that a Polish scientist who lives and works in France must be portrayed by a British actress who speaks English!

    In my opinion this is totally absurd. The language that is spoken in this drama is a fatal flaw.

    All efforts to respect historical accuracy goes out of the window every time an actor opens his or her mouth and starts to talk!

    What a shame!

    1. I think this is a common thing in cinema meant for American audiences. Everyone speaks English, no matter who or where they are. God forbid an American audience be required to read subtitles.

Comments are appreciated!