Friday, December 7, 2018

Marie Noëlle's bio-pic, MARIE CURIE: THE COURAGE OF KNOWLEDGE, explores the famous scientist's personal & professional life

Most mainstream audiences today, if they know much of anything about Marie Curie, will probably be somewhat familiar with her pioneering research on radioactivity. (She was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, as well as the first person and only woman to win it twice.) The new Polish/German/ French co-production,
MARIE CURIE: The Courage of Knowledge,  should add to our own knowledge considerably -- even if this addition covers as much about Marie's personal and romantic life as about her scientific work.

Both, as it turns out, are interesting enough. As co-written (with Andrea Stoll) and directed by Marie Noëlle (shown at right), the movie proves consistently intelligent and entertaining, very well acted and, thanks to some excellent cinematography (Michal Englert) and editing (by Ms Noëlle and three others), especially pleasurable to view.

The filmmaker uses a bevy of medium shots, which manage to give us a combination of dialog and emotion, yet enough distance so that we don't feel that our nose is being rubbed into things too heavily. This also works well with the rather impressionistic focus Noëlle offers, which also has a somewhat distancing effect, even as the beauty of many of the visual moments takes hold.

In the title role, Polish actress Karolina Kruszka (above and below) does a marvelous job of bringing to life Marie Curie as both a hugely intelligent woman of science and, as the film moves along, an emotional being finally giving in to her needs and desires. There's a grand scene midway along in which, all of a sudden and with near-shocking simultaneity, Marie gives in to repressed feelings, sex, food, drink and lots more.

That splendid French actor Charles Berling (below, in foreground), whom I don't see on screen nearly enough, plays the love of Marie's life: her husband and co-worker, Pierre Curie. With not so much screen time but his unshowy but enormous arsenal of talents, Berling demonstrates exactly why this fine man was such a vital partner to his wife.

As the other male of increasing importance to Marie, once Pierre has departed, Arieh Worthalter (below, left) is smart, sexy and just slightly sleazy enough to not quite pass muster. While his and Curie's relationship brings Marie back to life -- and then some -- the filmmaker and her star make certain that we see Marie as the great scientist and fully cognizant, capable and life-embracing woman she no doubt was.

We view this woman as scientist, wife, mother, lover and feminist (how and why the French Academy of Sciences treated Curie as it did is a blemish that sexist organization will probably never live down). Along the way we're treated to a scene or two featuring Albert Einstein (Piotr Glowacki, above, center), who evidently was a big fan of Curie's work, as well as a dose of the anti-Semitism harbored by the French.

By the time we reach the lovely finale of the film, which returns us to the impressionistic style of its beginning, there is a superb moment as mother and daughter walk away from the camera, and the daughter turns to look back. Marie Curie, however, simply keeps walking, eyes and mind forever on the work and goals that lie ahead.

From Big World Pictures and running a sleek 100 minutes, Marie Curie: The Courage of Knowledge, after a very limited theatrical release last year, arrives on DVD this coming Tuesday, December 11--for purchase or rental.

No comments: