Ammonite is a romantic love story, loosely inspired by the life of British paleontologist Mary Anning (Kate Winslet). Mary, who lives with her mother, owns a fossil shop and rich tourists.
Mary first meets her potential love interest, when a random tourist and his wife, Charlotte Murchison (Saoirse Ronan), stumble upon a piece of “ammonite” in her shop (those are the fossils that caught her attention, among other things).
As writer and director, Francis Lee was able to capture the subtleties and beauty of a budding romance, but something was missing. See what if you can find it based on the trailer, then prepare your hearts for the review.
Ammonite is much like that trailer–slow and in demand of patience, particularly in uncovering the details in the fossils. Also, patient in processing Mary’s interest in women, soft touches and stolen glances. All that tension, internal pull, and allure was done properly to build tension and to anticipate the moment Mary and Charlotte melt into each other.
Otherwise, the film is dull, as a whole.
The most disappointing thing about Ammonite is the fact there are two powerhouses as leads. Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan have always given stellar performances, no matter what roles they choose.
On their own, Charlotte (Ronan) and Mary (Winslet) have nuanced performances and deliver the yearning for each other quite well. However, as their characters get closer to each other, and they are unapologetically themselves, the lust and passion seems to fizzle.
We do know Winslet and Ronan choreographed the intimate moments shared between their characters. In all honesty, that was a huge mistake. The sexual moments shared between them felt extremely awkward and the passion was lost in conducting the acts, rather than feeling the moment.
The Story of Ammonite
The script was simple, which is why it seemed like the performances weren’t enough. The sad lesbian romance story has been beaten like a dead horse and this film added nothing to the subgenre whatsoever.
Who thought a story about a woman digging up fossils would be interesting enough to hold our interest for an entire runtime? It’s exhausting that the central focus must be the lead characters being gay for a story to be interesting. The story should just exist, and the LGBTQ representation shouldn’t be used as shock value or the entire development of the character. That is why Ammonite is generic and poorly written. It does nothing but harm the characters and their story.
Ammonite felt like a poor imitation of Celiné Sciamma’s Portrait of a Lady on Fire and I never, ever, compare films. Nonetheless, the entire time I watched Ammonite I was thinking about how Portrait did everything better.
The execution of their budding romance was absolutely intoxicating and Sciamma captured it beautifully. It is hard for me to say anything positive about Ammonite because I found it incredibly boring. It is one of those films that people will remember the sexual moments over the actual film itself, which says a lot about this film.
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