In Ammonite, Mary Anning is a paleontologist who has always worked alone until Charlotte Murchison is sent to be her apprentice, sparking up an unconventional love for its time.
Ammonite is inspired by the real life of Mary Anning and takes place in 1800’s England where Mary (Kate Winslet) supports her life’s work searching for fossils along the beach. She has since given up on making new discoveries and now focuses on finding common fossils to sell to tourists in order to take care of herself and her sick mother.
One day, a wealthy man pays a visit to Mary and asks her to take care of his melancholy wife Charlotte Murchison (Saoirse Ronan). Even though Mary insists she works alone, Charlotte’s husband offers too much money to turn down. Mary begins teaching Charlotte about her craft while they clash because of their differing social statuses, but they both start to let their true feelings for each other emerge in a time where same-sex relationships were only found behind closed doors.
Rounding out the cast are Gemma Jones, James McArdle, Alec Secareanu and Fiona Shaw.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, the film’s director Francis Lee said, “I was very drawn to that period because of this wonderful research into same-sex female relationships of the period that are all very well documented with letters to each other, demonstrating wonderful, life-long, passionate, intense, emotional relationships. And I was fascinated to set this film in a period that was totally patriarchal and where women were completely owned by their fathers or their husbands, and looking at how they live within that world, and also in a world where, at that time, the medical profession believed that women had no sexual-pleasure organs. So, the idea of two women actually in a relationship together was just not a thought anybody ever had within society.”
Lee is known for the award-winning film God’s Own Country, which is a gay romantic drama based on a sheep farm in rural England. He has always been praised as being able to find the true humanity of the characters, a trait which is evident in this first trailer for Ammonite.
The film, which is sure to be an Oscar contender, was able to wrap up production just before the pandemic hit and was set to play at the Cannes Film Festival and Telluride Film Festival prior to their cancellations. Instead it will have its debut at the Toronto Film Festival in September.
Ammonite is set to be in theaters on November 13th.