Starring: Rosamund Pike, Sam Riley, Anya Taylor-Joy
Director: Marjane Satrapi
Running Time: 110 mins
Radioactive is a British film about the life and career of pioneering scientist Marie Curie, whose scientific discoveries created an unprecedented impact both on her time, and the history of humanity.
For a historical figure with an impact as significant as Marie Curie, this is a really underwhelming biopic. Stale, rushed and lacking any insightful emotional depth, Radioactive is a dull watch throughout, failing in its attempt to capture both the significance of Curie’s discoveries and her own personal struggles.
It’s so strange how poor this film is, given the immense talent behind it. On screen, Rosamund Pike and Sam Riley star, while Persepolis director Marjane Satrapi helms the film. Yet despite that talent, Radioactive feels almost amateurish at its worst.
Its screenplay is poor throughout, from its lack of dramatic insight to its consistently terrible dialogue. The early moments of the film are insufferable, chronicling Marie’s meeting with future husband Pierre through scenes of awkward and forced scientific flirting.
Later on, Radioactive tries to grab your attention with its assessment of the standing of women in the scientific community, but does little to make that theme really get under your skin. In fact, the most memorable part of that theme is Curie’s repeated assertions that it was not her gender that stood most in her way as a scientist at the time, but her background and funds.
And with relatively little focus on her background, there isn’t much of an inspiring, uplifting arc for Curie here. Instead, there are a few eureka moments interspersed by long, dry and dull periods with barely any memorable drama to show.
Even stranger is the way in which the film tries to represent the long-term, controversial effects of Curie’s discovery of radioactivity. Almost randomly, the film throws in bizarre vignettes from the future showing the uses of the discovery for good and bad, including the bombing of Hiroshima and the development of nuclear weapons.
That all but ruins any narrative flow in the film, only reinforcing the fact that Radioactive really is a bit of an amateurish work. Marjane Satrapi’s generally unappealing style and drab direction do little to keep you engaged, while even leads like Sam Riley and to an extent Rosamund Pike are below their best.
It’s a real shame, because it’s clear that Marie Curie’s is a great story, and with so much talent working in this film, you would expect a whole lot more from Radioactive. But, as a painfully dull, stale and even amateurish biopic, there’s little positive to say about it, which is why I’m giving it 5.7.