Radioactive (2019) – Review

This pretty unremarkable biopic leaves too much to be desired. This film focuses on the re-imagining of the life of the renowned Marie Curie. It follows her as she must navigate through both her personal and professional life. Unfortunately, the film takes the life of such an interesting person and makes it rather boring.

This is a film without much focus, and unfortunately it does hurt the narrative. It jumps from scene from topic to topic as if it were a college presentation on her biography. As a result, the experience becomes a dull one because the scenes little depth to any of parts of her life. Scenes will either mention adversity as a lazy exposition, like her sister mentions that they don’t like her because she is polish. Instead of showing a hatred and unfair treatment she receives, you get scenes like this where she doesn’t seem phased. A lot of what this movie tries to get across were the amounts of hurtles that she was forced to jump over because of her sex and race. These scenes should be frustrating, tense, seemingly impossible so that when she finally is able to succeed, it is satisfying. But this film isn’t able to create any of that and so when she finally does succeed, you are so bored it doesn’t matter.

The tension in this movie is incredibly lacking. I never for once feel like there is any real urgency or threat to her success. When she gets denied repeatedly and even when she is getting sick from the radon, the scenes play out a little too hopeful. This wouldn’t be a problem if the scenes were meant to be hopeful. What is worse, any scene that is able to achieve some semblance of tension are ruined with scenes of future inventions that were only possible because of her work. The movie often times will shift from serious scene, like when she is dealing with the loss of her husband, to a more hopeful scene of the future of her research. This break of tension becomes tedious and annoying as it interrupts the narrative. I do applaud them for trying something different, but this is just filler. I would have liked it better it were left as text at the end of the movie and instead these scenes were replaced with actual content.

It is a shame that this isn’t a better movie because Rosamund Pike is truly wasted in her role. Most sense in this movie don’t allow for her to show her true potential. When there is so much lazy uninspired conversation, needless sex scenes, and a lack of tension, it can be easy to dismiss her performance as Marie Curie. But this shouldn’t be the case. There is a scene that comes to mind when she is looking down at the open casket of her late husband and she breaks down, you can see the frustration and the pain of losing someone so important to her in just this short scene. Even though it was lazily established throughout the movie that she loves her husband absolutely, it is in this scene where she makes you believe it. This scene alone is why I don’t dismiss this movie completely. But it is only a small part of the movie and in the end, not really worth the watch unless you want a quick summary of her life without having to look it up on Wikipedia.

In the end, maybe watch this movie if you want some background noise while you work. It isn’t engaging or interesting enough to maintain your attention but maybe you will learn something. If that isn’t your interest, this isn’t a very good movie and you can skip it.

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