Ammonite may have long since debuted in the United States, but for cinephiles in the UK, we've had to wait quite a while for any news. Then in early March, the UK release plan was finally announced.
The movie by Francis Lee (God's Own Country) will be out on premium video-on-demand services from Friday, March 26. This means you don't need a subscription to a service like Netflix or NOW.
However, it does mean that you'll have to pay a one-off fee to watch Ammonite. On Amazon Prime Video and the Microsoft Store it's £13.99. It's also available on Curzon and the BFI Player for 13.99 and £14 respectively.
Set in England in the early 1840s, the film follows fossil hunter Mary Anning (Winslet) and housewife Charlotte Murchison (Ronan), who has been sent to convalesce by the sea by her husband, as the two women develop an intense romantic relationship.
Gemma Jones, Alec Secareanu, James McArdle and Killing Eve's Fiona Shaw round out the cast. While the story is based on Mary's accomplishments, there is no information made readily available about her personal life.
Speaking to Digital Spy, Winslet explained: "And, you know, if Francis Lee had chosen to pair Mary Anning with a man, no-one would have commented at all about the fact that we had rewritten history in that way. Potentially, you know, we haven't rewritten history at all. There is no historical documentation about Mary Anning's personal life love life, that there just isn't anything available."
This is the space in which Ammonite lives – the imagined love life of a reclusive fossil hunter whose world is rocked when she begins to open herself up. Much like Mary Anning herself, Ammonite is slow to unfurl and retains its British stoicism throughout.
Ammonite sings thanks to the performances of its cast. While Ronan and Winslet are the focus, the peripheral cast is integral to creating the believable world in which Mary and Charlotte exist.
What it lacks, however, is a true sense of what's at stake; Ammonite's lack of virulent homophobia is a welcome relief, and we're definitely not arguing for the inclusion of hatred. However, there isn't really any external story tension, other than Charlotte's husband's eventual return, to add a sense of drama.
Given that was clear at the outset that Mary and Charlotte's time together always had a ticking clock hanging over it, its end is always a foregone conclusion and leaves the audience feeling mildly bittersweet rather than heartbroken. While Mary's internal struggle to open up is palpable and expertly acted, it isn't always enough to carry the movie.
In less capable hands, this imagining of Mary Anning's private life would have leant on the salacious and incendiary. Lee, instead, opts for a much kinder and narrower focus and succeeds in making a period movie love story feel timeless.
Those after an overtly dramatic drama about romance may be left less than satisfied by Ammonite's cool detachment. But those looking for a subtler, more realistic love story will be delighted by the softness and gentleness of it, even in its more fraught moments.
Ammonite is available to watch on premium video on-demand services like Amazon Prime Video now.
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