Ammonite ★★★★½

It's Geology 101, as Mary (Winslet), a 19th century paleontologist and shopkeeper, takes a wealthy and oppressed housewife, Charlotte (Ronan), under her wing. In a bid to spring Charlotte out of her depressive downer, Mary encourages her to get her hands dirty while excavating fossils on the Dorset coast. Their digging bonding sesh leads to an intensely passionate love affair between them.

Ammonite is a sweeping romance that is sublime, expertly acted and engagingly written. The subject matter's scientific nature really fascinates and there's satisfying depth to the characters. For a period piece, it's fresh to see a character such as Mary, be skilled in such a specialised trade. While credit for her work is overlooked by her male counterparts, she is seen as intelligent, tough and self-sufficient. Charlotte, meanwhile, finds herself in a melancholic state of mind as a result of patriarchal oppression. When then two characters collide, it's not an instant connection though. Lee instead carefully crafts the relationship through gaze, tender close-ups, and a well-written screenplay. The dialogue captivates and there's nuance in the couple's contrasting levels of class. Winslet and Ronan superbly commit to their roles with some erotically-charged love scenes akin to God's Own Country. Mary and Charlotte's bonnet game is strong throughout and their gowns are gorgeously designed. The score is absolutely beautiful as well.

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