Netflix’s new feature film on the life of Marie Curie begins with Polish-born Marie Skłodowska (Rosamund Pike) arguing with her mentor, Professor Lippmann (Simon Russell Beale), over her laboratory equipment at the University of Paris being moved again without her permission. She is single-minded about her research on the magnetic properties of steel. A fellow scientist, Pierre Curie (Sam Riley), offers her space in his laboratory. Pierre and Marie are attracted to one another but must find a way to work together. He believes in collaboration, though Marie does not. They grow in respect for one another, marry in 1895, and have two children.
Based on the discovery by Henri Becquerel of the X-ray properties of uranium, Marie and Pierre discover two new elements, polonium and radium. Marie calls the energy emissions of radium “radioactivity.” They talk about the potential for good of their discoveries as well as the dangers of them falling into criminal hands. In 1903, Pierre and Becquerel are awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics, and Pierre insists that Marie be included in the prize. She is the first woman to receive the prize.
Tragedy strikes when Pierre is killed in Paris in 1906. In 1911, Marie is awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. She is the only woman to receive two Nobel Prizes and in two different fields.
Radioactive tells a fascinating story, and Pike’s portrayal of Curie is outstanding. I love the script, which gives the audience the right amount of scientific information to keep us interested as we follow the stories of the main characters. Marie, who was born and raised a Catholic, falls away. She cannot reconcile her mother’s death years before with the idea of a benevolent God. Pierre, a Protestant, develops an interest in spiritualism. After Pierre’s death, Marie dabbles in it, desperate to see her husband again. Riley’s portrayal of Pierre as a kind man who complements Marie is warm and moving.
Throughout the film are scenes of the future showing the dire consequences of the misuse of radium and polonium, such as the atom bomb and the atomic arms race. The good uses are also shown, such as targeted radiation to shrink cancerous tumors and efforts during World War I to equip vehicles with mobile X-ray units.
Curie’s relevance shines through the film. She continues to pave the way for women to assert their intelligence and persist in gaining their rightful place in academia and research.
A-3, PG-13 • Peril, adultery, chauvinism, anti-Semitism.
In 1928, two young men emigrate from Ireland to the United States to make their fortune. Born into a poor farming family in Attymass, County Mayo, Patrick and his older brother, Thomas, make their way to their sister’s home in Scranton, Pennsylvania. After landing a job as a sexton at a parish, Patrick begins to feel the call to the priesthood that he had in his youth. The two brothers decide to join the Congregation of the Holy Cross, traveling to the seminary at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana. During his studies, Patrick is waylaid with tuberculosis. During this time, his devotion to Mary, Mother of God, begins to direct his life.
During World War II, Father Patrick begins using the radio, and then film and television, to call people to prayer. In 1947, he founds Family Theater in Hollywood. Actors such as Bing Crosby, Bob Newhart, Ann Blythe, and Lucille Ball lend their talents to productions about the rosary. Father Peyton becomes known as “the Rosary Priest,” whose motto, “the family that prays together stays together,” becomes popular. He begins Family Rosary Crusades that take place around the world and attract tens of thousands of people.
Father Peyton died in 1992 and was declared venerable in 2017. The media work of Family Theater Productions continues in the heart of Hollywood today.
On the one hand, this film is a standard biographical documentary; on the other, it tells a story of one man’s faith in God, as well as his devotion to Mary that continues to inspire the world. Historical footage is woven with interviews with several of Father Peyton’s relatives and members of his religious community. Pray is an inspiring story that shows why Father Peyton may someday be named a saint.
Not yet rated • No objectionable material.
Adam (Charlie Plummer) is expelled during his senior year of high school after his hallucinations lead to violent behavior. A Catholic school accepts him, but Adam, now diagnosed with schizophrenia, must stay on his medications and keep up his grades. His divorced mother, Beth (Molly Parker), must keep the principal, Sister Catherine (Beth Grant), informed of his mental health status. Adam wants to get his diploma so he can go to culinary school and become a chef.
Adam, beset by three voices in his head, experiences auditory and visual hallucinations that are calming, terrifying, and depressing. He stops taking his medication so he will feel more himself around Maya (Taylor Russell), another senior who tutors him. This leads to a serious relapse. Adam, who is not Catholic, feels lost and talks with Father Patrick (Andy Garcia), who guides him through some very rough times.
Words on Bathroom Walls is a film that sees people with mental illness as real individuals. The film, directed by Thor Freudenthal, is based on the novel by Julia Walton. The brilliantly created sequences of Adam’s hallucinations bring the audience into the world of schizophrenia.
A-3, PG-13 • Peril, cheating, real and imagined violence.