A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Radioactive is a biopic about Marie Curie (Rosamund Pike), who conducted pioneering research on radioactivity and ultimately won two Nobel Prizes for her valiant efforts. The depiction of love and a steady, supportive relationship is at the forefront of the movie, with Marie's husband, Pierre (Sam Riley), heavily involved in her discoveries. Overcoming both prejudice over being an immigrant -- she's called a "dirty Pole," among other derogatory terms -- and a woman, Marie is inspiring, displaying great compassion and sacrifice to help others during World War I. Due to the themes of conflict, violence is alluded to throughout, and with the devastating effects of war evident -- limbless soldiers are depicted. A key character is also crushed by a cart and horse, with some blood seen. Marie's discoveries are used by others for destructive gains -- i.e. atomic bombs -- something that plays heavily on her conscience. Some characters are shown suffering and dying from radiation poisoning. There's brief nudity when two characters run naked toward a lake (they're shown from behind), kissing, and one non-explicit sex scene. Characters drink, and some background characters smoke.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
RADIOACTIVE tells the remarkable and fascinating story of Marie Sklodowska (Rosamund Pike), a Polish academic who moves to Paris, where she marries fellow scientist Pierre Curie (Sam Riley). The duo push each other to succeed, and through diligent hard work and research, they make a life-changing discovery: the theory of radioactivity. While the Curies intend to use their discovery for good, others have far more destructive plans.
Is it any good?
This movie falls for the frustrating reasons that often trip up filmmakers when making biopics -- i.e., not quite knowing where the focus lies. Director Marjane Satrapi has created a film enriched with a sense of compassion, and she must be commended for her authentic depiction of the flawed yet mightily brilliant Marie Curie. Unfortunately, the movie lacks focus. Marie's life was incredible -- her two Nobel Prizes attest to that. But Radioactive covers too much ground, and subsequently it all feels a bit like it's checking off boxes.
It's only when delving into Marie's relationship with Pierre, and the love they share, that the movie comes to life. Luckily, the one consistent is Pike, who's astounding as ever in the lead role. It's just a shame this story, which is so brilliant and so inspiring and timeless, doesn't quite come to grips with the complexities that derive from radioactivity -- how it's been such a constant source of good and bad since its discovery.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about some of the challenges Marie Curie must overcome in Radioactive. She faces prejudice for both being an immigrant and a woman. Do you think she would face the same kind of discrimination today? Were you inspired by Marie Curie? What other women inspire you?
Discuss how radioactivity has been used for good and for bad -- for example, the treatment of cancer and the creation of the atom bomb. Does the good outweigh the bad?
What other biopics have you enjoyed watching? Are there any particular people you'd like to see their lives made into a movie? If so, who?
- On DVD or streaming: July 24, 2020
- Cast: Rosamund Pike, Sam Riley, Anya Taylor-Joy
- Director: Marjane Satrapi
- Studio: Amazon Studios
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: History, Science and Nature
- Run time: 109 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: thematic elements, disturbing images, brief nudity and a scene of sensuality
- Last updated: July 22, 2020
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