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Rosamund Pike And Marjane Satrapi Attempt To Pay Tribute To Marie Curie

Traditional biopics are slowly becoming a thing of the cinematic past. After all, as the film industry concentrates more and more on blockbusters, there’s less space to begin with for smaller, character based titles. Then, there’s the fact that some truly top notch biopics have found unusual ways to tell a life story. Now, the hopes for Radioactive, now out and available to watch on Amazon Prime Video, were certainly along those lines. However, despite some attempts to do so, it just ends up feeling like another flawed yet well-intentioned play to contend for awards. Rosamund Pike does her best, but she can only do so much here with a film that simply does not work.

The movie is, obviously, a biopic, looking at the life of Marie Sklodowska-Curie (Pike), who would go on to become one of history’s most important scientists. Whether it’s meeting her husband (who would go on to be her research partner as well) in Pierre (Sam Riley), making major discoveries polonium and especially radium, or a tragic loss in her life, you get the sense of how deeply she was committed to both her husband, as well as science. Curie’s contributions are shown to have been the main reason behind future treatments like brachytherapy, as well as used towards the creation of the atomic bomb. If there doesn’t seem like a strong focus, well…there isn’t. Marjane Satrapi directs an adaptation penned by Jack Thorne. Supporting players include Aneurin Barnard, Anya Taylor-Joy, and more. Evgueni Galperine and Sacha Galperine composed the score, while the cinematography is by Anthony Dod Mantle.

Regardless of the rest of the flick, Rosamund Pike is quite good here. She’s vibrant and determined, really making you feel how far Curie had to go, and in turn, allowing you to understand the importance and weight of what she’s accomplished. However, she’s actually so good, you notice how the rest of the cast, as well as the production on the whole, can’t keep up. Inadvertently, Pike showcases the shortcomings of the final product with her polished work.

Radioactive is a definite missed opportunity, especially for director Marjane Satrapi, who long has had a unique visual eye. Here, however, Satrapi, along with scribe Jack Thorne, lose a lot of the specificity that would have served them well. It comes off as bland and workmanlike, aside from momentary bursts of creativity. It’s a real shame, since Satrapi especially is capable of wild creations. Look no further than The Voices for an example of what she can do with a limited premise. Here, unfortunately, that’s not the case, which is especially a shame considering Anthony Dod Mantle is the DP.

In another world, this would have been something hoping to contend for awards love. Now, with whatever season we wind up having, that won’t be the case, though there’s an outside possibility that Pike picks up some notices. She’s very good and gives her all, no doubt about that. If the rest of the flick had been up to snuff, they could have had something that Oscar may have paid limited attention too. However, that’s almost assuredly not to be.

Now playing, Radioactive really only has a true appeal for devotees of Rosamund Pike and folks who really are curious about Marie Curie. Otherwise, it comes off as just a period piece bore, which gives me no pleasure to report. Pike and Marjane Satrapi, along with Jack Thorne, could have (and arguably should have) been able to pull this one off in a truly unique manner. Pike tries, but it just doesn’t land as intended. Alas.

Radioactive is out now and available to watch on Amazon Prime Video.

(Photos courtesy of Amazon Studios)

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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