Film review: Five stars for the ‘exquisite’ Ammonite

Must Read

NFL explains why the Ravens game continued after Dez Bryant’s positive COVID-19 test

Dez Bryant waited three years to have a crack at the Cowboys after they released him in 2017. But...

Pixies, King Krule, Big Thief and Perfume Genius for End Of The Road 2021

End Of The Road festival has announced over 100 names for its 2021 line-up. The Dorset festival cancelled its 2020...

Greenland Theatrical Trailer (2020)

<link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="//cdn.traileraddict.com/css/rembed.css"><div class="outer-embed-ta"><iframe width="100%" src="//v.traileraddict.com/126812" allowfullscreen="true" webkitallowfullscreen="true" mozallowfullscreen="true" scrolling="no" class="embed-ta"></iframe></div> <p><a href="https://www.traileraddict.com/greenland-2020/theatrical-trailer">Theatrical Trailer</a> for <a href="https://www.traileraddict.com/greenland-2020">Greenland</a> on <a...

The historical Anning made important discoveries that men took credit for, as the film notes in a deft opening sequence, when the skull of an ichthyosaur is put on view in the British Museum. On the display label a male buyer is given credit for its donation, replacing the notation that Mary Anning discovered it. The film picks up with Mary eking out a living with a shop where she sells souvenir fossils to tourists. Winslet makes her stern and brittle but immensely sympathetic, accustomed to disappointment and expecting little more than survival. The contained, potent performance is one of Winslet’s best.

Roderick Murchison (James McArdle), a would-be paleontologist hoping to learn from Mary, arrives with his delicately pretty wife in tow. Charlotte is taciturn for a different reason to Mary’s. We discover through a brief conversation that they have lost a child. “I want my bright, funny, clever wife back,” Roderick complains, signalling the patriarchal privilege and authority that the film never presents heavy-handedly. He pays Mary to look after Charlotte and take her fossil hunting while he is gone. Lee draws the contrast between the brusque, defensive Mary and the sad, timid Charlotte too starkly at first. Charlotte wears ladylike gloves. Mary squats and pees on the beach. But he gets away with it because Winslet and Ronan give their characters hidden depths.

When Charlotte becomes ill and collapses in Mary’s shop, she moves into the cottage and their dance toward romance begins. In reality, Charlotte and Mary became lifelong friends. Lee acknowledges that there is no evidence hinting at a sexual relationship, but for his artistic purposes, those facts don’t matter. Mary and Charlotte not only stand in for women of their era. They are alive on screen as individuals confined by Charlotte’s marriage, by the mores of society, and by their own confusion and reticence.

At times the dialogue is minimal, but the camera captures revealing glances and reactions. When Mary needs salve for the ill Charlotte, she must buy it from Elizabeth Philpot, played by the perfectly cast Fiona Shaw. One longing gaze from Shaw tells us that something intense has happened between Elizabeth and Mary. Winslet’s guarded posture and downcast eyes tell us that it ended badly. That is all we know or need to know at that point, as the film builds its intrigue.

We know, of course, where the relationship between Mary and Charlotte is headed, but not how. With some counterintuitive moves, Lee keeps us guessing about who will make the first tentative advance. A couple of explicit sex scenes leave no doubt about the overpowering, long-thwarted physical attraction between them. But the film gives equal emphasis to how the women change, as Charlotte comes to life and Mary drops her protective shell.

One of Lee’s brilliant choices is to refuse to put a soppy romantic gloss on the affair. He suggests instead that passion can blind lovers to a true understanding of each other as easily as it can open their eyes. Another smart choice was casting the affecting Gemma Jones as Mary’s mother, whose own heart-wrenching story plays out gently. It doesn’t spoil the ending to say that the final image returns to Mary’s discovery in the British Museum, where she and Charlotte look at each other from opposite sides of the glass display case. It is a quiet scene as lovely and as brutally honest as the rest of Ammonite.

★★★★★

Love film and TV? Join BBC Culture Film and TV Club on Facebook, a community for cinephiles all over the world.

If you would like to comment on this story or anything else you have seen on BBC Culture, head over to our Facebook page or message us on Twitter.

And if you liked this story, sign up for the weekly bbc.com features newsletter, called The Essential List. A handpicked selection of stories from BBC Future, Culture, Worklife and Travel, delivered to your inbox every Friday.

Source link

- Advertisement -

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

- Advertisement -

Latest News

NFL explains why the Ravens game continued after Dez Bryant’s positive COVID-19 test

Dez Bryant waited three years to have a crack at the Cowboys after they released him in 2017. But...

Pixies, King Krule, Big Thief and Perfume Genius for End Of The Road 2021

End Of The Road festival has announced over 100 names for its 2021 line-up. The Dorset festival cancelled its 2020 edition back in May due to...

Greenland Theatrical Trailer (2020)

<link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="//cdn.traileraddict.com/css/rembed.css"><div class="outer-embed-ta"><iframe width="100%" src="//v.traileraddict.com/126812" allowfullscreen="true" webkitallowfullscreen="true" mozallowfullscreen="true" scrolling="no" class="embed-ta"></iframe></div> <p><a href="https://www.traileraddict.com/greenland-2020/theatrical-trailer">Theatrical Trailer</a> for <a href="https://www.traileraddict.com/greenland-2020">Greenland</a> on <a href="https://www.traileraddict.com">TrailerAddict</a>.</p> logInWithFacebook = function()...

JetBrains Space: A collaboration platform for software developers that could challenge Slack and Microsoft Teams

JetBrains Space is a collaboration platform with its roots in software development, but the company is...

‘The first week was mayhem’ – how This American Life revolutionised radio | This American Life

Speaking to Ira Glass over Zoom is a slightly befuddling experience. His unique voice and speaking style, intensely conversational with lots of pregnant pauses...
- Advertisement -

More Articles Like This

- Advertisement -