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Review: French drama ‘Marie Curie: The Courage of Knowledge’ delivers stylish view of noted scientist

Stills from the movie “Marie Curie- The Courage of Knowledge.” Pictured: Marie Curie (Karolina Grus
Karolina Gruszka in the film “Marie Curie — The Courage of Knowledge.”
(Christian Hartmann / The Society for Arts)

Though its subject might have been known for her scientific expertise, “Marie Curie: The Courage of Knowledge” takes a decidedly poetic approach to the life of the Nobel-Prize-winning scientist. Director Marie Noelle brings a dreamy, impressionistic style to this drama, focusing on Curie’s romantic life and struggles as a woman, rather than dwelling on her scientific advancements.

Bookended by Nobel Prize ceremonies, “Marie Curie” shows the life of Polish-born Curie (Karolina Gruszka) in France between 1905 and 1911. The audience gets a glimpse into her partnership in life and work with husband Pierre (Charles Berling), and then reveals her struggles to be accepted within the male-dominated field. Her relationship with mathematician Paul Langevin (Arieh Worthalter) adds further challenges.

As biopics go, “Marie Curie” is a beautifully rendered sketch, rather than a fully detailed painting. Cinematographer Michal Englert employs a handheld camera, bringing an intimacy as well as a modern feeling to ensure that “Marie Curie” never feels stale. Noelle’s film doesn’t offer much historical context, but it’s a fascinating entry point for those unfamiliar with Curie’s personal life. For a movie that argues for her achievements as her own, it could spend more time on her professional work rather than her relationships.

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‘Marie Curie: The Courage of Knowledge’

In French with English subtitles

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 35 minutes

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Playing: Laemmle Monica Film Center, Santa Monica, and Laemmle Playhouse 7, Pasadena

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