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Parents' Guide to

Radium Girls

By Tara McNamara, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Inspiring real-life labor drama has intense moments.

Movie NR 2020 103 minutes
Radium Girls Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 12+

Based on 4 parent reviews

age 14+

Strange political and ideological additions to an otherwise inspiring true story

The parts of this movie that are actually based on the true story are brilliant and worth seeing. The parts where the writers and director took creative license are odd at best. There is a significant focus by the main characters on Egyptian polytheism and belief in the 'goddess of truth' that runs throughout the movie. One scene shows them asking questions of a tarot cards. Communism is a very subtle addition as well. The main character's love interest it initially looked at skeptically because he has communist symbols on his bag (meant to show he has some affiliation with the party) but he then becomes a trusted friend and it's never mentioned. In the final scene of the movie a protest for workers rights is shown in a positive and progressive light - and alongside protest signs encouraging women to vote are signs saying "join the communist party".
2 people found this helpful.
age 11+

11 and up

Very interesting movie that shows what can happen when good people stand up for the truth.

This title has:

Great messages
Great role models

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (4 ):
Kids say (5 ):

With the words "teen" and "activist" becoming increasingly synonymous, this historical drama is incredibly relevant and feels made to appeal to and encourage today's passionate youths. News stories about young U.S. female factory workers' legal battle against the rich, powerful heads of United States Radium Corporation (renamed "American Radium" in the film) have been largely forgotten, but the tale is worth remembering lest it repeat itself. Young women who were hired to paint glow-in-the-dark marks on time pieces using radioactive paint were instructed to create a fine point by putting the tips of their just-dipped brushes in their mouth. We now know that radium can cause debilitating health conditions, but it's sobering to be reminded that, at the time Radium Girls takes place, the substance was being hawked as a health elixir and put in beauty products and makeup to help create a "glow" in users. Teens may be able to make the connection: Which current "safe" or "healthy" products might later be shown to actually cause harm?

The movie's historical perspective is bolstered by vintage footage from the time -- including film snippets of movie star Rudolph Valentino and other cultural moments, as well as news reel clips of political marches for equality and unity. The protests involve issues that are still unresolved -- and still drawing people to the streets -- a century later (yes, they had signs reading "abolish the police" in the 1920s). While the movie's script isn't exactly groundbreaking, it's certainly effective. And, it should be noted, the outdoor cinematography is indeed radiant. Most importantly, 17-year-old Bessie's path to activism may encourage young viewers that justice can be achieved, that regular people can take down a giant via teamwork. That's a message we can't get enough of these days.

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