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Jul 27 2020

Review: Rosamund Pike in "Radioactive"

Please welcome new contributor Juan Carlos Ojano, who you may know from the podcast "一英寸屏障" - Editor


Biopics are tricky.Inasmuch as making them are good bets for filmmakers to get awards consideration, they are also prone to falling to overused clichés. One overworn formula persistently plagues this genre: the all-encompassing chronicle of the major events in a real person’s life. Such is the case with Marjane Satrapi’sRadioactive, an unabashed ode to the legacy of Marie Curie and her contributions to science, that's now streaming on Amazon Prime.

While this biopic harbors a lot of distinct aesthetic choices, they are but distracting compensation for formulaic storytelling...

The film frames its narrative with Curie (Rosamund Pike), already in her later years (and in rubbery makeup), being rushed to the hospital after collapsing in her laboratory. It then backtracks to her years as a strong-willed scientist ostracized by male scientists. Then on to her marriage with another scientist (Sam Riley), an extramarital affair with her colleague (Aneurin Barnard) and so on.

It is already a lot, but it does not stop there. Not only do we get unnecessary flashbacks to her childhood, we also see small chapters of how her discoveries permeate in the lives of people all over the world: a child getting radiation therapy, the bombing of Hiroshima, the covert Manhattan Project, and the seismic disaster at Chernobyl.

All of these narrative threads are placed to highlight Curie’s impact on humanity, but they actually clutter the central story. What remains is the film’s idea of Curie: the persevering scientist who changed history. Marie Curie the character is never fully formed.Ironically, the best part of the film actually comes near the end. During the first World War when soldiers are having limbs from the smallest of injuries, Curie compels the government to use X-rays to help doctors diagnoses their wounds roperly.

What makes this portion of the film work well is the change of heart Curie goes through, gradual and sincere. While the film plants moments where the impact of her work is seen, this is the most involving because she is confronted not just with her own invention but putting it to work. With a surprising needle drop from Philip Glass’ score from时时刻刻(actressexuals will notice), it comes together in an emotionally resonant way. Not enough to salvage the earlier parts, but at least it’s there.

The film also suffers from the odd rhythm of the editing, making the storytelling even shakier. Take a montage where Marie is working closely with Pierre. The cutting choices in this sequence are intending to escalate the stakes of scientific discovery. This should be a moment where we root for Marie and her colleagues the most. However, it comes off as hastily composed, the cuts coming too quickly for us to fully absorb the magnitude of the moment. Two more sequences, an accident and a dream sequence, also suffer from a collision and stitch-work of images that hinder full involvement.

More satisfying is the cinematography. Radioactive is lensed by Oscar winner Anthony Dod Mantle (贫民窟的百万富翁), and the film really gets adventurous with its use of color. There are scenes where the unusual clash of colors just pop out. The occassional use of bright colors is arguably distracting but it is at least a choice that takes major risks.

All of the film's busy problems are what Rosamund Pike’s performance has to deal with. If you're also a self-confessed actressexual, you're probablyused to seeing great performances trapped in films that don't deserve them and Radioactive is no exception. Pike's interpretation of the madam is striking. While Curie's steely determination is the overarching characteristic both the film and Pike lean into, Pike finds several dimensions within it, beyond what the something broad or bland writing suggests.

派克不断上升之际,让居里夫人的细微差别和细节。快速触摸在她的头发,突然犹豫进入一个医院,一巴掌一个缓慢的反应时,渴望亲吻一个已婚男人,果断傲人的身姿之中周围的传闻 - 这些都是小细节,完成这个人物的旅程。该断然书面场景是由谁知道如何利用材料的控制演员从自己获救。

Rosamund Pike’s career-best work includes her Oscar-nominated role in消失的爱人and her Golden Globe-nominated leading role inA Private War。她在放射性表现可能达不到这些的高度,但是这种一反常态空胶卷一年给出派克不愧为最佳女演员谈话一次。

Radioactive存在不一致的风险承担之间的某处The Theory of Everythingand the offensive blandness of波西米亚狂想曲。总而言之,这是一个有趣的混乱:善意,甚至大胆的时候,但在写作的命中或错过的视觉风格在很大程度上削弱。不过,观察其派克女士。C


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Reader Comments (6)

Good article, but we need about three more stat!!

2020年7月27日|Unregistered CommenterSOS

Rosamund Pike, much like Charlize Theron is one of those beautiful actresses who is always interesting to watch. I am sorry the script and film aren't better. Marie Curie deserves a better representation but I'm pleased that Pike gives it her best.

2020年7月27日|Unregistered CommenterLadyEdith


July 28, 2020 |Unregistered CommenterRichter Scale

Greer Garson's Madame Curie was great, and only focuses on one of her accomplishments, so the journey was more impactful.

July 28, 2020 |Unregistered CommenterKC

Pike is working so hard against her film to make it into something and if no other contenders arrive later on she'd be a worthy nominee.

July 28, 2020 |Unregistered Commentermarkgordonuk

as a woman scientist, phd biochemistry, i find this review seriously unsatisfying and unrealistic. and i have the credentials as a researcher and published scientist, including many large grants, and as a college professor (including ivy league).

curie motivated me as a child, and was a role model for my life and career... the trailer alone made me cry as it struck so many chords of my own life experiences

i submit that the mostly negative review is from a male personage who has no idea what the reality of being a 'woman in science' is like...

August 3, 2020 |Unregistered Commenter劳拉·安德森博士

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