Ammonite – Saoirse Ronan and Kate Winslet find love amongst Cornish rocks and fossils ★★★★

Ammonite follows the life of famous paleontologist Mary Anning (Kate Winslet). While she never married, in 1825 she met Charlotte Murchison (Saoirse Ronan), a woman trapped in a depressing marriage who came to study Anning’s geological treasures. What begins as a typical biopic merely retelling events soon becomes an intensely passionate period drama amongst the fossils in candle-lit rooms, away from the glaring eyes of others. 

What I loved about this film was the (almost) entirely fantastic female cast. Director Francis Lee could not have chosen a better couple of actors to retell the spirited relationship between Anning and Murchison. Bringing Ronan and Winslet together is an important selling piece of the film and in combining their award-winning abilities Lee produces electric drama. The film revolves around Anning’s struggles in the geological industry to gain recognition as a low-class yet extremely successful fossil hunter. Even some of her finds were never recorded under her name and were appropriated by male scientists from the Royal Geographic Society. Not only does she find love and freedom in her relationship with Murchison but she also sympathises with her personal martial entrapment. 

As such, Anning has to resort to selling many of her finds in a tourist shop in Lyme Regis to subsidise her serious scientific work. Day in day out, she scours the beaches of Lyme Regis to sell in ‘Anning’s Fossils & Curios’ as she struggles for scientific achievement. 

As the film progresses we witness Murchison’s clothes turn from black monotonous tones to bright yellow and white and we see Anning’s hard exterior slowly break down as the relationship blossoms. It is almost like they two become two young teenagers with no regard for the oppressive society around them – quite like Jack and Rose’s innocent and beautiful romance in Titanic. Similarly, the clock is ticking on their perfect passionate relationship as Murchison will soon have to return to upper-class society with her husband in London. 

Interestingly, despite being set during the Victorian period, Lee does not delve into the fact that same-sex relationships were condemned but rather explores the sheer thrill and vibrancy of the relationships which is far from being a fossil and is very much alive and present. 

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