AMMONITE is a labour-intensive, impeccably detailed and tender film, the second from tactile master Francis Lee. This is a story of passions, of the agony of being starved of them, of being kept from them. Direct comparisons to PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE would be lazy, but both films do notably feature two women (here Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan) in a relationship liberated by the brief absence of smothering patriarchy. Everyone looks convincingly cold and uncomfortable for the time period, Winslet’s performance as palaeontologist Mary Anning is all-consuming, hunkered-down and punctuated by telling physical tics, usually in the way her hands, her invaluable tools, move. There’s no reason to presume historical figures with no documented relationships were heterosexual, and Mary and Charlotte’s passionate time together feels convincing and honest. Ammonite’s final ten minutes delivers an emotional gut-punch to rival Lee’s GODS OWN COUNTRY, even if the rest of the film isn’t quite as transcendent. SSP
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Writer and film fanatic fond of black comedies, sci-fi, animation and films about dysfunctional families.
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