There’s a scene very early on in Francis Lee’s Lesbian romance where central fossil hunter Kate Winslet succeeds in climbing up the side of a Cliff face to extract Rock. This critic was instantly reminded of the central “Welcome To The Rock” refrain and opening track from one of his favourite musicals Come From Away. The film adaptation is currently slated as being in production. A pro-shot is also scheduled for release this year. This critic can only imagine the discourse around it when those unfamiliar with the property see either version. Should the inciting incident that resulted in the true story on which the musical is based be a factor in a feel-good musical? That thought was more engaging than anything in the media currently being watched by this viewers eyeballs.
Ammonite is a case example of critic friendly British drama It will be given a pass by a lot of reviewers on star power and forbidden LGBTQ love theme alone. It stars Winslet as a lonely archaeologist in 1840s England. She ends up having to take care of Saoirse Ronan for an extended period. During this, they strike up a taboo romance. This kind of love story is dime a dozen ( regardless of gender or sexuality) but can be done well.) In this case ( beyond the surface level comparison to Celine Sciammas Portrait of a Lady on Fire), Lee’s film is a dull slog. If it wasn’t for the final sex scene probably being at the upper end of what filmmakers can present within a 15 certificate, this would be exactly the kind of sleepy, middlebrow hokum filling up grey pound matinee shows where cinemas open. Winslet and Ronan are two of the best British actresses around. However, they struggle to sell a script where the switch in tone from Winslet between care figure to lover feels entirely unearned. Ronan spends most of the first hour confined to a bed. The whole thing feels like the creative team know they will be able to sell this to a certain audience on star power alone, regardless of the central figures actual onscreen chemistry.
The one thing the production has going for it is a strong sense of place and atmosphere. given Winslet’s profession, a lot of the film takes place on various beaches. These are very well used to capture how grim and dour the prospect of going to a British beach can be for the majority of the year. Ahe waves will lash against the rocks as the stones crunch under the protagonist’s feet while the wind howls. this is all thanks to an effectively aggressive sound mix. This is an admiral quality but certainly not something worth selling the film on for a general audience. That’s very much the problem overall. Beyond some of the praiseworthy cosmetics, the full package is far too dull to justify a recommendation.
Ammonite was profoundly disappointing. The sleepy tone, dull script and lack of chemistry between leads do a real disservice to Winslet and Ronan’s best efforts. Add in an ending that feels mildly stalkerish and this critic was glad the film concluded when it did. Superfans of the actresses or those looking for new LGBTQ dramas might get something out of it. That said, beyond some impressive use of certain locations there’s nothing to recommend here.