- Hamish Hart
Ammonite (2020) Review
Updated: Oct 18, 2021
MELANCHOLIA is a condition characterised by severe depression, lack of bodily functions, and in extreme circumstances, causes hallucinations.
Despite being a film heavily depicting the apathetic side effects of melancholy, Ammonite pushes the envelope and firmly places a range of emotions on full display in a multi-layered romance that refuses to adhere to traditional love stories.
Based on the life of 1800s archaeologist, Mary Anning (Kate Winslet), Ammonite tells the tale of her secretive relationship with Charlotte Murchison (Saoirse Ronan), an upper-class woman who suffers from melancholia.
As a result of her condition, Charlotte is left in the care of Mary, both of whom neglect each other. But despite their conflicting lifestyles and economic classes, the two women form a relationship that would become the catalyst for Francis Lee's sincere film.
There are two key factors that play a massive role in Ammonite's success: Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan.
The chemistry the two leading ladies possess is undisputed, carrying Ammonite through its most intense and hallow scenes.
Winslet does a remarkable job, seamlessly transitioning from an archaeologist with the personality of her fossils, to a strong woman willing to open herself up to an outsider in the form of Ronan, who delivers the most profound and mature performance of her absurdly young career.
Each actresses' performances are near-perfectly assisted by remarkable cinematography and masterful sound design, or lack thereof, as director Francis Lee proves that uninterrupted silence can be most effective during long-lasting shots and highly emotional confrontations.
Cinematography, pacing and acting are easily the greatest aspects of the film, but in a disappointing case of irony, Ammonite begins to fall apart once you dig further into the story.
Ammonite's script is a beautiful one, with Winslet and Ronan both getting the opportunity to deliver stellar lines. However, whether it was the awkward inclusion of certain interactions, many scenes felt unnecessary which made the two-hour affair feel much longer than it needed to be.
But maybe that's why Ammonite worked. Lee's take on a raw romance felt long-winded in parts, yet strangely enthralling in others, creating a cinematic experience that I hadn't witnessed in years - and one that I would be more than happy to experience again.