Condensing the entire life of a global personality in a two-hour movie — sometimes a little longer — is the quintessential obsession of the world. biopic Ordinary. On the other hand, focusing on a particular period or event has resulted in more attractive efforts. An example of this is Steve Jobs (2015), whose plot follows three important events in the inventor’s professional career, and Shirley (2020), a drama with a mystery tinge in which the writer Shirley Jackson does not act as the sole protagonist. Regardless of whether they were good movies or not, these and others at least attracted attention for their unusual approach. Which leads us to Madame Curie (Radioactive, 2019), which could well be an example of everything that should not be done on a biopic tape.
Marie Curie (Rosamund Pike) and her husband Pierre (Sam Riley) discover radioactivity after arduous investigation. Although her work is shortly accepted by the scientific community, Marie must fight twice as hard to gain recognition from her male peers. In addition to this, chemistry little by little is discovering the collateral effects of its great discovery, which could represent a danger of being used for unethical purposes. As she ages, Marie faces tragedy and assumes unexpected facets for her, such as being a mother and putting the inventions produced by her work to a new use.
Madame Curie It tries to cover not only too many moments in the life of the Nobel laureate, but also a variety of themes. What begins as a romantic biopic suddenly turns into a commentary on the role of radioactivity in human “progress.” And in the middle we can find a critique of xenophobia, a melodrama, a story of mother and daughter —with a tiny appearance by Anya Taylor-Joy— and even a war segment. There is no doubt that the life of the scientist is truly fascinating and worth telling; but this performance shows remarkable confusion as to what was really meant.
Director Marjane Satrapi (Persépolis, The voices) and screenwriter Jack Thorne (Extraordinary) are complicated by trying to make the tape look like something seemingly ambitious. The story begins with the first meeting between the Curies, resulting in a scientific society that will change the world forever. Strangely, his great discovery – radioactivity – is shown to us very early in the film.; it is an anticipated climax that leads the filmmakers to explore other moments in the protagonist’s life that they believed could not be skipped. From there, the plot goes everywhere and nowhere. What follows is a series of episodes with little connection to each other, and that shows all the weakness of the script.
At one point in the film, Marie laments that the Nobel Prize committee mixes her personal life with her professional one. The comment is certainly valid, but it is impossible not to relate it to the approach of the same film, which seems to give enormous importance to several sordid moments of his life, such as an affair and a somewhat uncomfortable encounter with a world as alien as the paranormal.
Although, of course, these scenes stem from marital tribulations, Thorne’s script shows some interest in the sensationalism and gossip surrounding him. For a supposedly progressive treatment, Marie is sometimes the victim of some incongruities that leave her character in a bad way. In one scene, for example, the woman disapproves of her sister reminding her of her past as a Pole; later, when the topic of xenophobia is suddenly introduced into the plot, Marie becomes a fierce critic of the contempt for her.
But perhaps the most absurd decision of Thorne and Satrapi is to use the resource of the flashforward completely arbitrary and misleading. These moments – some as if they were part of another movie – present us with the future consequences of the discovery of the Curies. Its insertion, in addition to not contributing to the narrative, seems to blame Marie for some of the most painful disasters humanity has ever faced. As if that were not enough, these flashforwards they emerge as if they were “opening the eyes” of the viewer; the scenes, badly acted and too long, are intended to start an ethical debate on the use of radioactivity, when it has existed for decades.
There are many parts of the film that feel like student workThe filters in the images, the flare in the background as the lovers kiss, the animated inserts that point out the obvious, a bizarre death scene and inconsistent montage accentuate the weakness of the script. Perhaps the most striking aspect of the film is the photography of Anthony Dod Mantle. Its neon tones offer a glimpse into a world that sometimes alludes to the surreal.
It is curious that the film is an adaptation of a graphic novel: Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie: A Tale of Love and Fallout; Satrapi, until now, is famous for adapting his own Persépolis, extracted from the same format. There, the Franco-Iranian manages to condense her own life brilliantly; It is by wanting to emulate that effort, with a live action and an alien life, which Satrapi utterly fails. His personal touch could hardly be elucidated amidst so much narrative chaos.
Madame Curie subjects its protagonist to an enormous feeling of guilt for events that have not even happened. Although his intention, of course, is to celebrate chemistry, his way of doing it borders on contradiction. In the end, the impression remains that Satrapi and Thorne take hold of the person of Curie to wonder if all this was really worth it. The questioning is certainly unfair and even naive.
Madame Curie is available on Netflix.
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a biopic mired in contradiction