Written by: Jack Thorne
Starring: Rosamund Pike, Sam Riley, Aneurin Barnard, Anya Taylor-Joy, Cara Bossom
Women have not received the respect they deserved for respectable accomplishments all throughout history. Even the most foundational devices and practices utilized through history have been devised and brought to this world by women, but the history books do not always appropriately highlight them. Radioactive tells yet another one of these stories but aptly provides future context for the pros and cons of the protagonist’s contribution to the world.
Incredibly intelligent but does not like to play ball with the men’s club dominating her profession, Marie Curie (Rosamund Pike) needs a place to get her work done. She meets Pierre Curie (Sam Riley), who provides the laboratory for her to continue and together they discover two brand new elements. With this new discovery, it provides so much good to the world but also a decent amount of collateral damage.
Highlighting the contribution of impactful women will never get old and Marie Curie receives the recognition she received in Radioactive. It serves as an examination in her rise to prominence but also the perpetual struggle she has to be respected much like her male peers. With women getting a limited amount of opportunities to begin with, Marie does not care to play nice in order to continue to curry favor with them. She does her job to the best of her ability, delivers tangible results, and will not provide the smile they seek along the way. This obviously does not sit well with the other men, which leaves her with the opportunity to meet Pierre and it appears to be all for the best.
With the creation of radium through the countless hours of work by the Curies, this film depicts the innovation it provides in their time, but also how it will be used in the future, both in a good and bad sense. The introduction of radium brought forth chemotherapy to treat cancers but it also found its use in nuclear bombs like the one the United States shamefully utilized twice on the Japanese in World War II. It’s not all roses and Marie certainly did not know the full potential of it all, but the introduction undoubtedly made an impact worldwide. In her time, it shows the effect it had on her personally. It brought her the Nobel Prize twice, which she had to fight for in order to even have her name attached. All of the glory one could want, but if anyone knows anything about the Curies, it’s the adverse impact of their work with such a dangerous material. The harmful effects of working that closely with this element obviously did not have the proper research and they became the test subject for how it impacts the human body after too much exposure.
Radioactive follows many of the conventions and tropes involved when documenting someone of this stature’s life but it gives Rosamund Pike yet another opportunity to shine in a leading role as she embodies the unrelenting and focused spirit of Marie Curie. This woman not only had to battle with the struggle of her gender but also eventually had to deal with the ramifications of being Polish in France. She changes her name to Marie because of the implication along with happily taking Pierre’s surname as well. She disguises herself in this manner so the only thing she has left to try and weigh her down is her gender, which comes as its own challenge. Pike brings the right amount of ferocity and restraint to the role in order to bring this woman to the screen and demonstrates why she has accumulated so much respect.
While it contains some of the same conventions of biopics, Radioactive also employs some impressively dazzling visuals to create some trippy sequences. It plays well with the adverse effects radium has on Marie, as her reality begins to bend in circumstances where her body gets overwhelmed by this element. This serves as an enforcement of the inescapable impact this discovery has had on her. It brought her greatness but also immeasurable pain both physically and emotionally.
Marie Curie undoubtedly stands out as one of the most influential individuals in history with what she ushered into the world. She fought bravely to preserve her accomplishments and her name in a world and setting looking to disparage her at every turn. In highlighting the success and the struggle, Radioactive proves to be a worthy film to demonstrate her accomplishments. It provides Rosamund Pike with yet another opportunity to prove her acting acumen as she continues to impress.