George Clark’s review published on Letterboxd:
2020's newest romantic drama Ammonite, directed by Francis Lee and starring Kate Winslet, Saoirse Ronan, Gemma Jones and James McArdle, is a deeply disappointing film for me. Whether it be fair or unfair, my mind kept comparing Ammonite to 2019's Portrait of a Lady on Fire, another period film about repressed women exploring forbidden love and isolation-fuelled intimacy, and rather unfortunately, Ammonite was inferior in every regard.
I live only an hour's drive away from Lyme Regis in Dorset and thus I spent the vast majority of my childhood amongst those cliffs, exploring for fossils and learning about the history and legacy Mary Anning has here. There's no doubt the film looks utterly beautiful, it is truly gorgeous at times and does capture the essence of a forbidden love, at a time when same-sex love was still condemned by many, quite well, but the storyline is so dull and unimaginative that it never takes the time to fully explore the beauties of the landscape and the intriguing history that lays within the cliffs. Sadly, as a person that already knows the history, it was quite disappointing as ultimately, the film is basically an English 'Portrait of a Lady on Fire'...but with a lot more fossils and a worse screenplay.
Ammonite should be and could have been an award-season darling thanks to its two leads, its look at gender roles in society, and a passionate affair, but it ultimately misses the spark to make it fully come alive and thus only bores its audience with its execution.
Ammonite isn't a bad film by any means, but it's one that's deeply disappointing and one that could have been so much better than the final product we got.
2020 Releases Ranked