The joining of the Oscar winners – here’s why we should watch Ammonite this weekend
Kate Winslet AND Saoirse Ronan, you say?
By Becky Hardy
It was last year when it was announced that multiple award-winners Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan would be teaming up for Francis Lee’s second film and, safe to say, we were pretty stoked. Fast-forward a few short months (lol, just kidding) and it’s finally time for Ammonite to hit our screens – and we’re sure it’ll more than live up to the hype.
Lee’s directorial debut, God’s Own Country – a moving love story centred around two farmhands in Yorkshire – was released back in 2017 and, although an unlikely success on paper, went on to win cult status.
Now his second film, Ammonite, looks set to do the same. Another tale that spins on the axis of forbidden love, Ammonite not only explores the love between its two leading ladies, but also the passion they both have for their work – something which was expressly frowned upon by the Victorian society the film is set against.
Add Saoirse and Kate into the frame – both of whom need little introduction – and you’ve got to be onto a winner, right? After all, neither actress has been known to make a bad movie, in our memories at least.
So what’s it all about?
Set in the 1840s, Ammonite focuses on brilliant, self-taught palaeontologist Mary Anning (Winslet), who works alone along the wild Dorset coastline. Although having once achieved fame with her discoveries, Mary is now forced to hunt for common fossils she can sell to tourists in order to support herself and her mother, (played by Gemma Jones who, most recently, has starred in The Crown and Finding Alice but who we remember from Harry Potter and Bridget Jones). By day, Mary is out on the beach, slipping through sand and mud searching for ammonites; by night, she toils to make a living by crafting mirrors decorated with shells.
When Roderick Murchison (James McArdle, who starred alongside Saoirse in Mary, Queen of Scots) arrives at Mary’s home on the first leg of his European fossil-hunting tour, he entrusts her with the care of his young wife, Charlotte (Ronan). Recovering from personal tragedy, Charlotte – in Roderick’s mind anyway – just needs a cheeky bit of sea air to sort her right out. Although reluctant, Mary can’t afford to turn him down.
The two women are from completely different worlds – one a proud and passionate fossil-hunter who prefers to go off stomping and scowling into the distance – the other seemingly soft and delicate, with a wardrobe full of white, ruffled dresses to prove it. But despite the gulf between them, Mary and Charlotte discover in the other what they have each been searching for: the knowledge that they’re not alone.
What ensues is the tale of a passionate, all-consuming love affair that will defy social boundaries and change both of these women’s lives forever. But more than this, Ammonite is an intelligent challenge on the long tradition of men taking credit for the work of women and puts women back at the centre of history, where they belong.
With stunning composition and costumes which have already earned the film a BAFTA nod, an all-star cast and a blockbuster of a storyline, Ammonite is a must-watch for hardcore movies buffs and lowkey fans of a good flick alike. Admittedly a bit of a slow burner, it becomes a torrid, tempestuous tale about the passion, commitment, defiance and strength of women from all walks of life that’ll do us good to be reminded of. We just wish it had made it to the big screen.