Date: 26/10/2021 Times: 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm

Francis Lee has written and directed this follow up to his much acclaimed and beautiful first film, God’s Own Country (2017). It is another film which examines the development of a relationship in unlikely circumstances, a love story about an inexpressive loner coaxed toward happiness by an outsider. In this case, Lee has created the story around a known historical figure, the knowledgeable but, until recently, unacknowledged self-taught palaeontologist, Mary Anning, who lived and worked in Lyme Regis, situated on the Jurassic Coast.

In 1800s England, Mary Anning (Kate Winslet) works alone on the rugged Southern coastline. With the days of her famed discoveries behind her, she now searches for common fossils to sell to tourists to support herself and her ailing mother. When a wealthy visitor entrusts Mary with the care of his wife Charlotte Murchison (Saoirse Ronan), she cannot afford to turn his offer down. Proud and relentlessly passionate about her work, Mary initially clashes with her unwelcome guest, but despite the distance between their social class and personalities, an intense bond begins to develop, compelling the two women to determine the true nature of their relationship.

Ammonite becomes a film of earthy, robust sensuality. The overtones of midwifery in Mary’s excavation work grow even more pronounced once Charlotte, who has recently lost a baby, rolls up her sleeves and mucks in. Mary at first dismisses the lump that Charlotte spots in the landscape (‘It’s too big to move, you’re wasting your time’) before changing her mind, breaking off a rotten plank from a rowboat marooned nearby and lashing the prize to it with a length of rope. Nothing escapes Lee’s attention, but he is especially acute on matters of class. When Mary accepts an invitation to visit Charlotte’s London residence, she is directed by the maid (Wendy Nottingham) to use the tradesman’s entrance. Once the woman realises that Mary is, in fact, a guest, her face becomes a zoetrope of emotions flashing past at lightning speed. Disbelief, amusement, resentment, even disgust all take their turn, before she settles on an expression that seems to say: You’re no better than I am. Once inside, Mary is pounced on by Charlotte, who makes no effort to conceal her ardour. Noticing that she is casting a wary eye at the help, Charlotte waves away Mary’s fears: ‘That’s just the maid’ she says. The poor woman’s stock is so low that she doesn’t even represent a threat. 

For reviews and further information, please click below.


Year: 2020

Country: UK

Cert: 15

Duration: 120 mins

Dir: Francis Lee

'Kate Winslet, Saoirse Ronan and a gorgeous, forbidden affair.'

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Venue: William Loveless Hall