Love is a complicated emotion. It can make you feel high. It can fill you with despair or it can open you up to a world of emotional intensity that changes your life for an eternity. Some people exist their entire lives and never encounter a true love. A love that makes you contemplate whether or not you want to go back to a life before that person entered it.
1840s England, acclaimed but overlooked fossil hunter Mary Anning (Kate Winslet) and a young woman Charlotte Murchison (Saoirse Ronan) sent to convalesce by the sea develop an intense relationship. A relationship that shifts from the ladies despising each other to a full blown affair that alters both their lives forever.
Directed by Francis Lee, Ammonite has many unspoken moments and it is those moments that speak volumes. Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan can do no wrong. Watching these heavyweights battle it out onscreen is joyously interesting. Kate Winslet has always been an actress who turns in one fearless performance after another – no holds barred ever. Winslet, no stranger to period films, gives a performance similar to Hanna in The Reader. Having said that, it shouldn’t and won’t deter you from being bowled over with yet another brilliant performance from the Oscar winner. However, as a film centered in queer love, it feels very much on the safe side unlike Céline Sciamma’s Portrait of a Lady on Fire (set about 70 years earlier), which goes all the way there on full tilt.
It is due to the chemistry of Ronan and Winslet that allows one to get wept up into the emotion of this slowly paced story, but worth the journey nonetheless. A journey that reminds us of a daughter who was a stone uncovered and brought back to life like the fossils she unearthed.