Ewan Gleadow

Movie Review: Radioactive

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Copyright: StudioCanal

The term “spring cleaning” comes immediately into my mind with Radioactive. The idea that we should clear up the clutter of our homes and put our best foot forward. Well, it may be winter, but it’s time to declutter. I’ve had Radioactive in my sights for the best part of a year now, and for some reason I never pulled the trigger. My ongoing war with not watching this Rosamund Pike-led biopic of the incredible scientist Marie Curie has been something that dawned in April. I refuse to carry this nonsense on any longer, in the immortal words of Tommy Lee Jones, “I will not sanction this buffoonery”. I’m like Captain Ahab, Radioactive is my white whale, and I’m going to plant a harpoon right in the jugular.

Quite an emotive description for a film that elicits all the spirited layers of a rather dense souffle. For the record, I’ve not read Moby Dick either, and I don’t know if whales have jugulars (a quick Google search left me with little insight). All of this is mere deflection, though, a break from the inevitability that has fallen on me. Anyone that has seen Radioactive has seen it because they either have an intense fascination with Curie, or they couldn’t find the remote to the TV. From the immediate scenes of an aged Curie walking the streets of Paris, the cliché uses of high piano keys to underline drama, the oddly blurred camerawork and the lifeless positioning and framing, Radioactive is a dense and horrible piece.

It has no right to be so bad, with such a talented cast under its belt and a director who, by all accounts, has a solid track record with Persepolis and The Voices. Marjane Satrapi feels like someone better suited to creatively inspired performances, rather than dull biopics on figures of relative interest. Pike is here to put this one up for an Academy Award, and she gets nowhere close to offering us a performance worthy of one. To her credit, she’s stuck with a script that blurs the line between erratic nonsense and expected conformity, neither quite working as Satrapi attempts to include artistry in what is a very flat and mundane film.

A strange year for biopics, but Radioactive is the closest you’ll get to normality. I’m not sure if that’s reassuring in times of massive global insanity, or just a rather recurring annoyance that showcases how we’ll never quite free ourselves from the clutches of producers clutching to safety nets. Wasted opportunities, ridiculously poor cues that get us from A to B with all the expected highs and lows thrown in for good measure. Radioactive is a real mess, a genuine disaster that looks, feels, and sounds like it was run through a series of suits and boardrooms before it reached audiences. Even then, no amount of studio meddling can harm poor performances, loose direction, and an inability to take a genuine interest in its subject matter.