Review: Radioactive

Year: 2019
Runtime: 109 minutes
Director: Marjane Satrapi
Writers: Jack Thorne (screenplay by), Lauren Redniss (based on the book by)
Stars: Rosamund Pike, Sam Riley, Aneurin Barnard, Simon Russell Beale

By Kate Boyle

There have been many successful films based on comic books or graphic novels, but “Radioactive” is something completely different. The story of Marie Curie is brilliantly brought to life with stunning visuals and a terrific performance by Rosamund Pike. Many people are familiar with The Curie’s from science class but don’t understand the struggles Marie went through as an immigrant, a woman in the early 19th century, and as a working mother.

Rosamund Pike in Radioactive (2019) Copyright: Amazon Studios

“Radioactive” follows Marie Curie’s journey from unappreciated member of the scientific community to two time Nobel Prize winner. The film is a mostly accurate portrayal of her life, but (like most biopics) takes liberties to increase the drama and tension. It does not shy away from her treatment as a woman in a mostly male field- her “temperament” and “strange behavior” constantly questioned, where if a man behaved the same way no one would bat an eye. It covers her relationship with her husband and family equally with her devotion with science.

“The story of Marie Curie is brilliantly brought to life with stunning visuals and a terrific performance by Rosamund Pike.”

The graphic novel the film is based on, Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie: A Tale of Love and Fallout by Lauren Redniss, is also a work of art. It is unlike anything I’ve read before and I can definitely see the inspiration in the film. It’s mostly sketches, scientific diagrams, and paintings with overlaid text, not the frames or panels of a traditional comic book. If you like the film and/or are interested in the Curie’s, I highly recommend checking it out.

Marie Curie (Rosamund Pike) and Paul Langevin (Aneurin Barnard) Copyright: Amazon Studios

This is not the first time director Marjane Satrapi has brought a graphic novel to the big screen. Satrapi is most commonly known for “Persepolis” (2007)- an autobiographical, black and white animated film, based on the graphic novel of the same name. “Presepolis” earned Satrapi her first Oscar nomination and I would not be surprised if “Radioactive” got her another one.

“Radioactive” is an above-average biopic, with excellent performances, that should appeal to a variety of film fans.”

Marjane Satrapi and Rosamund Pike on the set of “Radioactive” Copyright: Amazon Studios

The other clear standouts, as far as potential awards go, are Rosamund Pike for Lead Actress and Anthony Dod Mantle for Cinematography. No one knows what the future awards season will look like, but I expect to see those two names appear at least once. Pike only has one previous Oscar nomination, “Gone Girl” (2014), and is well overdue for a second one. Her portrayal of Marie Curie is brilliant and absolutely awards-worthy. If I had to point out any negatives for the film, I’d say it felt a bit long but I didn’t mind too much in the end.

To wrap up, “Radioactive” is a film you should definitely check out, especially if you have access to Amazon Prime. The availability and quality of new films this year has been sometimes questionable, but “Radioactive” is an above-average biopic, with excellent performances, that should appeal to a variety of film fans.

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