Ammonite ★★★

Not quite God’s Own Country, in that Ammonite’s deliberate drabness serves less to contrast with its explosive moments of sexual euphoria than to concretise the film within a period setting. Lee’s sophomore feature pits the solitary Mary Anning, paleontologist (Kate Winslet), with Charlotte (Saoirse Ronan), the “melancholic” wife of an emotionally distant fellow paleontologist. In a recent spate of LGBT-themed films wherein such relationships are mostly clandestine and above all ephemeral, Ammonite dutifully fashions a study of its two leads the way its titular fossil finds itself a curio for museums; where the former undoubtedly engenders greater carnality, one finds such carnality glossed over, as if it were merely in service of thematic contrast. To Lee’s credit, little is voiced aloud — do all love stories need an expository flair? — but then the silences and gestures could have been longer.

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