Even today, you'd have to go far to run into a radical individual like Leonie Gilmour. But in America in 1901, to meet a young woman like her must have been on par with witnessing a comet.

Raised in New York by a single mother, Gilmour studied at Bryn Mawr, a liberal-arts college in Pennsylvania, and Paris' Sorbonne university on a scholarship. She then got a job as an editor for Japanese poet Yonejiro Noguchi; things took a short-lived turn for the amorous, and she bore a son, Isamu Noguchi — who became one of the most influential and important Japanese artists of the 20th century.

At the beginning of the biopic "Leonie," Gilmour (the always excellent Emily Mortimer) is so formidable that her Bryn Mawr professors keep her at a wary distance. When a classmate, Catherine (Christina Hendricks), shyly extends an invitation to friendship, she retorts with a line that's like a slap in the face: "Don't disappoint me by being ordinary."