Ammonite is set in the 1840s, and centres around standoffish fossil hunter Mary Anning (Kate Winslet – in the forthcoming Mare Of Easttown), who’s taking huge, fossilised rocks off the beach, starting with a titular one.
It’s also a time when women were very subservient towards men, who would order for their wives in a restaurant, including as Roderick Murchison (James McArdle) is seen doing for his wife, Charlotte (Saoirse Ronan – Mary Queen Of Scots, Ladybird), who’s starved of affection from him.
It’s not been all sunshine and rainbows for Mary, either, since her mother, Molly (Gemma Jones – Marvellous) – whose health is failing, gave birth to 10 children, and when Mary was a child, eight of them died as babies.
The two leads’ paths cross, as Charlotte – who’s a bit ‘Pat and Mick’, having caught a fever and needs to convalesce on the coast, collapses after taking a brief dip in the sea. Mary ends up caring for her, leading to a glance here and there, although for the most part, both Mary and Charlotte walk around with a faces like a wet weekend in Manchester.
Thers also a scene, 26 minutes in, where Mary takes a leak on the beach, but without the aid of hand sanitiser, all she can do is rub her hands on her rag…. and then break some bread to offer to Charlotte. Bleah!
But that’s not what you’ve tuned in for because you’ve seen the picture above, and that’s what’s drawn your curiosity. For those who want to know, it’s at the 52-minute point where things start to get intimate between the two leading ladies, since Mary’s having to sleep on a chair while sick-but-improving Charlotte is hogging her bed.
Plus, it’s 1hr 10 mins at the point where the two leads start snogging each other’s faces off, and a bit more, but it’s not really too much to write home about.
In fact, there’s so much time spent with nothing happening whatsoever, and I could see absolutely zero to this apart from two women getting off together, and pretending to do more – but aren’t, really, because it’s a Hollywood movie. The lack of much dialogue – certainly, nothing meaningful – confirms there’s no real plot of which to speak.
And then Ammonite gets to a point where it just… ends.
Ammonite is, easily, a masterclass in tedium.
I watched a version without subtitles, and at times, the dialogue is drowned out either by music or the sound of the sea crashing against the shore. What sort of nonsense is this?! Was writer/director Francis Lee trying to echo Christopher Nolan with the likes of Tenet??
Ammonite is on Sky Cinema from Friday March 26th, but isn’t yet available to pre-order on Blu-ray or DVD.
Running time: 117 minutes
Release date: March 26th 2021
Studio: Sky Cinema
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Director: Francis Lee
Producers: Iain Canning, Fodhla Cronin O’Reilly, Emile Sherman
Screenplay: Francis Lee
Music: Volker Bertelmann, Dustin O’Halloran
Mary Anning: Kate Winslet
Charlotte Murchison: Saoirse Ronan
Molly Anning: Gemma Jones
Elizabeth Philpot: Fiona Shaw
Eleanor Butters: Claire Rushbrook
Dr. Lieberson: Alec Secareanu
Roderick Murchison: James McArdle
Charlotte’s Maid: Wendy Nottingham
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.