Austin Burke’s review published on Letterboxd:
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I am finally starting to play catch-up with a few films. This was a highly anticipated return for Director Francis Lee, as he takes us back to the 1800’s and brings us a beautiful Romance. An acclaimed but overlooked fossil hunter Mary Anning and a young woman sent to convalesce by the sea develop an intense relationship, altering both of their lives forever. This film lives and breathes through our two leads. Kate Winslet gives us a handful of heartbreaking and gut-wrenching moments, Saoirse Ronan continues her streak of top-notch performances, yet we somehow end up with a film that never truly follows through with its story. There is a lot to like visually and from a dialogue-delivery standpoint, but Lee never takes advantage of what this story could have been. It is subtle but almost too subtle at times. We get a taste of what their relationship could be, but it never truly hits until far later than I had hoped for.
We also just completely abandon certain plot-points that could have given us some emotional resonance. There just isn’t much of a story here. I needed something else to go wrong (that sounds bad I know) or another layer to what inevitably ended up as one moment near the end. It takes so long to get to that moment, and it takes so long for this relationship to find its footing. Then you are just left wanting more, and maybe these are the intentions of Lee and the script, but it ended up being frustrating. All of that being said, they are phenomenal together. You root for them, you hope they can overcome, and you understand the reason for the buildup. The cinematography was solid, but again, it wasn’t as “sweep me off my feet” as the trailers promised. Pacing was lacking, but the emotion was, at least, present. This is why you get performers of this caliber, but I am not sure if they were able to push the film into Oscar territory.
🔜Pieces of a Woman