Just yesterday I was casually browsing through the movie listings on the television, when I came across the name ‘Ammonite’ to be shown at 9.00 pm on a particular channel. The new name caught my attention as I have not heard or seen the movie earlier, and also more so when I saw that the cast included Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan. I immediately knew I have to see this one. And finally after watching this 2 hour movie, I decided to share the movie with you all. It will be a shame not to do so 🙂
I have to admit that I had a crush on Kate Winslet since the days of ‘Titanic’ and I have always felt and told everyone that she is the most beautiful actress that I have seen in my long experience of watching movies, and also she is a genius of portraying such different and diverse roles and becoming one of the most senior, experienced, well respected and truly dependable face of movies. I particularly remember her role in the movie ‘The Reader’ for which she got the Best Actress award at The Oscars. Saoirse Ronan is also no novice in the movie industry though much younger to Kate, but both of them are heavy weights as their career say about them till now.
The story of Ammonite [meaning of Ammonite] is set in the 19th century, in a beautiful seaside town called Lyme Regis in West Dorset, England, and revolves around the real life character called Mary Anning. The character quite ably played by Kate Winslet, was a pioneering, famous and well respected paleontologist of the 19th century whose fossil findings in Lyme were much appreciated by many, but as the class struggle very evidently strong in those times, were kept out from the male dominated scientific societies and clubs.
In the time of the story line, Mary used to lead a secluded life, running a workshop and curio store in her seaside home along with her ailing mother Molly, beautifully played by Gemma Jones. Almost leading a the life of a recluse, Mary’s mundane daily routine was consumed by her fossil excavations and polishing stones to display them as souvenirs for travelers. She barely spoke, was headstrong, tough, staying away from human relations as much, except being with her mother, living almost in a shell of her own. Very talented Director Producer Francis Lee beautifully creates the haunting and at parts eerie circumstances in which he brings out the best from his lead, Kate Winslet.
Mary’s mundane seaside life underwent a sea change when she was visited by a wealthy man, a fellow paleontologist, Roderick Murchison, [played by James McArdle], along with his wife, Charlotte Marchison [played by Saoirse Ronan]. Roderick Murchison’s relation with his wife was under clouds of a painful miscarriage, his masochistic behavior towards his wife created the distance much more. While he was scheduled to go on an extensive excavation expedition, he wanted to leave his wife in Lyme Regis so that the sea air will do much good to the frail health of his wife Charlotte. In this regard, he put a request with Mary to allow Charlotte to be lodged with her while he would be away. Even after some resentment, Mary agreed to the arrangement.
While it all started with mere walks along the coast with Mary on her excavation journeys, Charlotte started slowly accepting her present situation with Mary in her lodgings. And then, Charlotte fell ill one day with high fever, and came under the direct caring of Mary for the next few days. And what started was a beautiful new relationship between these two lonely ladies, a relationship which would have been judged as something against the times in the 19th century, somewhat of a rebellious nature, but actually what happened was both of them finding their homes in each other.
The story went into the ending phases as the husband of Charlotte, Mr. Roderick came back from his expedition and settled in London and called his wife back. This physical separation, as was naturally not accepted by Charlotte, she invited and called Mary to come to London to visit her in her home. Mary went and found out that Charlotte made some permanent arrangements for Mary to stay with her in her London lodgings. Mary, a recluse, a free soul, not wanting to get trapped in a cage as she thought of relationships, had a row with Charlotte, and parted ways. We ultimately didn’t know whether they stayed together in the future or whether Mary went back to her lonely life in the seaside Dorset town of Lyme, where by now, her mother had expired. I thought the Director wanted to leave us there, and I don’t blame him for that 🙂
The Movie And The Cast : My Views
Many people will say this is just another period gay or lesbian drama, as there has been similar ones before too, one from the Director Francis Lee himself, in his last movie ‘God’s Own Country’. But I will not go on that path. The lesbian theme is not highlighted in this movie in much more elaborate and extravagant manner. Nor it has become the main focal point of the movie. There is much more to this movie than just a lesbian theme. Both Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan are experienced actors and they portrayed and brought out the beauty of the short lived relation in between them very aptly. Both were silent, introverts, hiding sea of pains inside them from their past lives, and very subtly and elegantly brought out the little show of emotions and expressions of feelings when they were within them. The haunting settings of the gloomy weathered English seaside town in Dorset with it’s beautiful beach, impending rock face, the scores of seagulls on the sea water, and the picturesque town itself provided the very apt back drop of this intense emotional drama.
Added with these two central characters are stellar performances though briefly by Fiona Shaw, playing the character of Elizabeth Philpot, who was a previous love interest of Mary Anning, though that ended in a painful separation as we found out. Also stellar is the performance of Gemma Jones, playing the part of Molly Anning, Mary’s mother. Molly had 10 children, out of which 8 miscarriages. That pain is depicted by her haunting keeping and caring for 8 stone figurines whom she called her babies, and never allowed anyone to touch them. The movie made with a shoe string budget brought out the talent and methodical approach of Director Francis Lee, and the cinematography, background score, other ambient sounds from the sea and the surroundings, and also sometimes the long silences, provide the viewers a very natural experience of the eerie settings of the story. While Mary Anning’s story of fossil hunting and excavations for the same are real and famous in England and well known, but whether the nature of her sexuality was a reality or not should better to be left unknown.
If you ask for my verdict, I will give this movie 4/5 rating. While I loved the movie to the core, loved the stellar performances of the very experienced and older Kate Winslet, and also very experienced but relatively younger Saoirse Ronan, loved the settings, the costumes, the locales, the cinematography, the audio and everything else, I was a little disappointed at the rather abrupt ending. But then, I have agreed to come to terms with it and accepted the Director’s wish in that. But otherwise, I strongly recommend this movie to be watched. So please do so if you haven’t done it already. I will leave you with another clipping of the movie’s trailer for a first hand experience. Let me know in the comment section below if you wish to talk about this movie and anything else 🙂
Disclaimer : All images used in this post are sourced from Google Images. Also there are further readings for you if you click the links in the post regarding the movie. I don’t know whether you will be able to find the uncut version of this movie in many countries, but even the edited version will move you I am sure.
Well, I can take a little breather today as I have officially finished the challenge I took from Blogchatter to write 10 posts in 15 days. I have never done so previously, so it was a challenge to me also to see whether I can do it. It was fun and I hope the Blogchatter team will challenge us bloggers more with such activities in the future. ‘This post is a part of Blogchatter Half Marathon.’