Ammonite ★★½

- Insert photo of Ben Affleck smoking and looking despondently at the ocean here -

Awash with a script full of cliches, and drowned in cacophonously messy sound design; the biggest heartbreak in period romance “Ammonite” is the movie’s completely unfulfilled potential. 

Kate Winslet and Saiorse Ronan as beach-combing paleontologist lesbians is a cracker of an elevator pitch if I’ve ever heard one. The two actresses are historically well-lauded for their clayey physicality and sincerity. Unfortunately, even that immense talent is not sufficient enough of a nail to hang an entire picture on.

First, the frame begins to tilt - growing more and more askew with each on-the-nose metaphor. Of course, many remarks are made about ‘caging’ and ‘displaying’ the homey Winslet character behind the confining glass of society.... just like the fossils she finds.

Then the wall starts to creak under the weight... the sound design in “Ammonite” is among the poorest in any movie this year. Why a quiet love story about beach-combing should be as aurally fuzzy and disruptive as an action scene from “Tenent,” I cannot say. 

Lastly, the picture comes crashing to the floor. This happens about 2/3rds through in a scene I will only say deserves all the backlash given to a similar one in “Blue is the Warmest Color” many years back. I’m going to point here to the many, many lesbian romance films that are directed by women and/or lesbians, and how they rarely - if ever - so centrally focus around prolonged graphic sex scenes as do “Ammonite” and “Blue.” 

While I won’t go so far as to hurl accusations of fetishisation, “Ammonite” commits a litany of other, more provable crimes. None greater than a total misuse of its two gifted leads.

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