Watch Ammonite (2020) | Synopsis and Review

 After his success in directing God's Own Country (2017) which marked his feature film directorial debut, Francis Lee is back in the directing chair for Ammonite. With a script that he also wrote himself, Ammonite is set in the 1840s and tells about some of the conflicts in the life of renowned British fossil researcher Mary Anning (Kate Winslet). In an era where women are still often regarded as second-class citizens, Mary Anning's popularity as a paleontologist does not provide much support for her financial condition. This is what then causes Mary Anning to be unable to refuse an offer from a geologist who is also an admirer of her, Roderick Murchison (James McArdle), to look after his wife, Charlotte Murchison (Saoirse Ronan), in exchange for a lucrative one while he is on duty for a few weeks. At first, Mary Anning thought Charlotte Murchison's presence would be annoying

daily work. However, slowly, the two women from two different worlds began to find the attention they had never felt before.


In some aspects of its storytelling, Ammonite still has a story structure similar to Lee's previous films. In addition to having the same background story in the location and time where the romance that is told is a taboo or even forbidden form of relationship, such as God's Own Country, Ammonite also presents a story about the meeting between two characters with different life backgrounds. who are different but then form an attachment that then changes the course of their lives. The story of meeting as well as romance is actually so simple. Lee also doesn't seem to be trying (read: wanting) to make the story present with excessive dramatization in order to present a thicker melodrama feel. Ammonite, apart from the form of romance that exists between the two main characters, then grows into a universal love story and can easily form an emotional bond with the audience.

Lee also allowed the film's story to flow slowly. With minimal conflict as well as dialogue, Lee built Ammonite with the gaze formed between the film's characters, the body gestures they showed, as well as many quiet moments that turned out to be able to speak loudly thanks to Lee's ability to create intimate moments in film storytelling. The silence that forms in the relationship that exists between the characters is also felt when Lee collides with the noise caused by the atmosphere of the ocean waves that dominates in many scenes. It's easy to compare Ammonite to Céline Sciamma's Portrait of a Lady on Fire, which was released last year and has a similar storytelling theme and execution pattern. Still, Lee's reliability managed to lead Ammonite to leave a distinctive trail of its own storytelling.

Lee's choice to put Winslet and Ronan at the forefront of his film acting department is clearly also the key to the success of Ammonite's storytelling. Are two actresses with the best talents of their respective generations, Winslet and Ronan present chemistry that can radiate strongly to animate the emotional turmoil felt by the two characters they play. Ammonite begins its story slowly and coldly. However, when Winslet and Ronan's characters Mary Anning and Charlotte Murchison began to interact, Ammonite immediately found the best rhythm of the story. Winslet, in particular, manages to make Mary Anning's character so hypnotizing in her many silent moments. Definitely Winslet's best performance in recent years.

Ammonite's acting department was also strengthened by the appearances of Gemma Jones and Alec Secăreanu – who previously also strengthened God's Own Country's acting department – ​​as well as a brief but very attention-grabbing performance from Fiona Shaw. As a film set in the past, Lee is also able to package the film to appear with a very convincing past British atmosphere – from the fashion, make-up and hair, to the production design. Ammonite certainly wasn't a directing step too far for Lee. However, his touch of storytelling is so humane that it is able to give soul as well as life to the stories it presents. And Ammonite once again proves that.


Ammonite (2020)

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