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Radioactive  (DVD)

5/10

Stars: Rosamund Pike, Sam Riley, Simon Russell Beale, Aneurin Barnard, Anya Taylor-Joy, Ariella Glaser, Tim Woodward, Katherine Parkinson, Jonathan Aris

Director: Marjane Satrapi

Although the title may lull unwary renters into thinking this is a horror film, it is in fact, another re-telling of the Marie Curie story (and her discovery of radium and polonium). It is, however, apart from the leading performance by a perfectly-cast Pike, considerably less a movie that the famous old MGM classic Madame Curie, with Greer Garson.

The story, told in flashback - just one example of the film's unnecessarily fractured structure - begins towards the end of the 19th century, when Polish embryonic scientist Marie (Pike) meets her future husband Pierre (Riley) in Paris. The pair not only join forces in marriage but in scientific research in their own laboratory.

But Marie, as a woman, faces an uphill battle to be recognised as a scientific innovator in her own right.

Pike, who actually looks a tiny bit like Garson, gives a stirring performance as Nobel Prizewinner Marie, especially in her big speeches, making the best of an uneven screenplay. As her husband, Riley is entirely competent, but lacks the additional warmth that Walter Pidgeon brought to his 1943 portrayal of Pierre.

Although it's impeccably set in period, the film's visuals are sometimes found wanting, while the director's unorthodox treatment, throwing in more modern consequences, good and bad, of the Curies' work, robs the story of much of its forward momentum. The discoveries themselves, however, still carry something of an emotional charge, an element the film sorely needs.

David Quinlan

UK/USA/Hungary/China 2019. UK Distributor: StudioCanal. Colour.
104 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 12.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 12 Jun 2020