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The true story of Marie Curie

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Rosamund Pike plays Marie Curie in Marjane Satrapi’s feminist biopic of the Nobel-winning scientist whose discovery of radium and polonium laid the foundation for atomic energy.

Poster for the biographical drama RadioactiveAt a time when accomplished women are being reappraised and celebrated as heroines, Radioactive, Marjane Satrapi’s study of the life, work and lasting influence of Polish scientist Marie Curie, is a timely reminder of this exceptional woman's achievements. She is the only person in history to have won the Nobel prize in the fields of both chemistry and physics.

The film is animated by Rosamund Pike's prickly perf as Marie, born Maria Skłodowska, whose almost comical aggressiveness toward male authority figures hides a touching self-defensiveness at being a woman in a man’s field.

Satrapi, the Iranian-French director who adapted the film Persepolis from her own graphic novel, here directs her first English-language film, which is adapted from Lauren Redniss’s 2010 graphic novel. The female energy behind this project makes itself felt in many ways, including a pervasive educational feminism that feels overloaded at times. But right or wrong in her decisions, Pike’s Curie is every inch a heroine in this version of her life.

The script is fast-moving and covers a lot of ground, including both professional and personal events. Satrapi breaks out of the traditional biopic model to some extent, with flash-forwards to future developments in atomic science.

Marie Curie deomstrates to a group of menRosamund Pike creates an admirable if flawed character whose graceful womanhood battles with her fears of being exploited or bypassed for her gender. Marie finally tells her daughter Irene that “being surrounded by death and radiation have brought me very little happiness.” Luckily, Irene, who has inherited her mother’s self-certainties and scientific flair, is herself on her way to winning a Nobel and pays no heed to her warnings.

Deborah Young, Hollywood Reporter

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