Ammonite is a 2020 romantic drama film written and directed by Francis Lee. The film is loosely inspired by the life of British palaeontologist Mary Anning, played by Kate Winslet. The film centres on a romantic relationship between Anning and Charlotte Murchison, played by Saoirse Ronan. Gemma Jones, James McArdle, Alec Secăreanu, and Fiona Shaw also star.
The film had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on 11 September 2020. It is scheduled to be released in Australia on 14 January 2021, by Transmission Films, and in the United Kingdom on 26 March 2021, by Lionsgate.
In the 1840s, acclaimed self-taught palaeontologist Mary Anning works alone on the wild and brutal Southern English coastline of Lyme Regis. The days of her famed discoveries behind her, she now supports herself and her ailing widowed mother by hunting for common fossils to sell to rich tourists. One such tourist, Roderick Murchison, arrives in Lyme on the first leg of a European tour, with his young wife Charlotte, who is recuperating from a personal tragedy. He entrusts Charlotte to Mary's care. Mary cannot afford to refuse this employment but, proud and relentlessly passionate about her work, she clashes with Charlotte. They are two women from utterly different worlds.
Despite the chasm between their social spheres and personalities, Mary and Charlotte discover they can each offer what the other has been searching for: the realisation that they are not alone. It is the beginning of a passionate and all-consuming love affair that will defy all social bounds and alters the course of both lives irrevocably.
In December 2018, it was announced Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan had joined the cast of the film, with Francis Lee directing the screenplay he wrote. Iain Canning, Fodhla Cronin O'Reilly and Emile Sherman serve as producers with See-Saw Films, BBC Films and the British Film Institute. In March 2019, Fiona Shaw announced her role in the film. In May 2019, it was announced Alec Secareanu, James McArdle and Gemma Jones had joined the cast of the film.
Principal photography began on 11 March 2019, in Lyme Regis, Dorset. The scenes were shot chronologically in order to deepen the immersion in the characters' psychological trajectory. David Tucker, director of the Lyme Regis Museum, consulted on the film's scientific accuracy.
In February 2019, Lionsgate and Transmission Films acquired UK and Australian distribution rights to Ammonite, respectively. In January 2020, Neon acquired US and Canadian distribution rights to the film for $3 million. Ammonite was set to world premiere at that year's Cannes Film Festival, prior to its cancellation due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was also selected to screen at the Telluride Film Festival in Colorado in September of that year, prior to its cancellation also due to the pandemic.
Ammonite had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on 11 September. Winslet was awarded TIFF's Tribute Actor Award. Ammonite has or is scheduled to be screened at several film festivals including Deauville, Hamptons, Mill Valley, Newfest, Ghent, London, Chicago and Montclair.
Ammonite was theatrically released in the United States on 13 November. It is scheduled to be released in Australia on 14 January 2021. and in the United Kingdom on 26 March 2021.
In its opening weekend the film grossed $87,552 from 280 theatres.
On the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 66% based on 182 reviews, with an average rating of 6.6/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "The chemistry between Saoirse Ronan and a never-better Kate Winslet helps Ammonite transcend its period romance trappings." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 73 out of 100, based on 38 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
Katie Rife of The A. V. Club gave the film a B− for a lack of chemistry between the leads and an inconsistent tone: "this is a film that runs either burning-hot or bone-chilling cold, contrasting blue toes dipping into freezing, frothy sea water with flushed cheeks and tousled updos in post-coital repose". The Hollywood Reporter placed the movie number 4 at their best films of 2020 year-end list. The film was placed at the 27th position on the Indiewire list of the 50 Best Movies of 2020 and 43rd at the Esquire year-end list. The movie also appeared on the RogerEbert.com The Best Films of 2020 year-end list.
There is no evidence as to Anning's sexuality in real life, and the film's historical accuracy has been questioned. Two of Anning's distant relatives were reported as having differing views on the decision to depict her as a lesbian, with Lorraine Anning supporting the film, but Barbara Anning criticizing the choice.
Lee defended his decision, saying in a series of tweets, "After seeing queer history be routinely 'straightened' throughout culture, and given a historical figure where there is no evidence whatsoever of a heterosexual relationship, is it not permissible to view that person within another context? Would these newspaper writers have felt the need to whip up uninformed quotes from self-proclaimed experts if the character’s sexuality had been assumed to be heterosexual?" Some reviews also criticized the choice. A piece in The Guardian read, "No one knows if Mary Anning had lovers. But what a new film does get right is the vital role women played in her life".
- Wiseman, Andreas (3 June 2020). "Cannes Film Festival Reveals 2020 Lineup: Wes Anderson, Steve McQueen, Kate Winslet & Pixar". Deadline. Retrieved 20 August 2020.
- Gant, Charles (4 September 2020). "Francis Lee on making 'Ammonite' and his "obsession with class"". Screen Daily. Retrieved 22 December 2020.
- "Ammonite (2020)". The Numbers. Retrieved 30 November 2020.
- "Ammonite (2020)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 22 December 2020.
- "Ammonite: About". See-Saw Films. 2019. Retrieved 6 June 2019.
- Herridge, Tori; Sykes, Becky Wragg (20 March 2019). "Behind a lesbian furore over a famous palaeontologist lies a deeper truth". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 March 2019.
- Wiseman, Andreas (14 December 2018). "Kate Winslet & Saoirse Ronan To Star In Romance 'Ammonite' For 'The King's Speech' & 'Lady Macbeth' Producers".
- "Fiona Shaw: 'I'm delighted to be in with the young crowd!'". The Guardian. 3 March 2019. Retrieved 3 March 2018.
- Grater, Tom (14 May 2019). "First look at Kate Winslet, Saoirse Ronan in romantic drama 'Ammonite' (exclusive)". Screen International. Retrieved 14 May 2019.
- Mulchahey, Jennifer (12 February 2019). "Ammonite will star Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan and be filmed in Lyme Regis". bridportnews.co.uk. Retrieved 26 February 2019.
- Cartlidge, Sarah (19 February 2019). "Mary Anning film starring Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan to start filming in Dorset soon". bournemothecho.co.uk. Retrieved 26 February 2019.
- Tucker, David (5 January 2021). "When Kate Winslet Came To Lyme Regis". Sloan Science & Film.
- Wiseman, Andreas (5 February 2019). "Kate Winslet-Saoirse Ronan Romance 'Ammonite' Pre-Sells To Sony, Lionsgate & Transmission After Heated Auction". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 26 February 2019.
- Fleming, Mike Jr. (25 January 2020). "NEON Lands U.S. & Canada Rights On Saoirse Ronan-Kate Winslet-Starrer 'Ammonite' For $3 Million". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 25 January 2020.
- Wiseman, Andreas (3 June 2020). "Cannes Film Festival Reveals 2020 Lineup: Wes Anderson, Steve McQueen, Kate Winslet & Pixar". Deadline. Retrieved 3 June 2020.
- Keegan, Rebecca (3 August 2020). "Inside the Telluride Film Festival That Would Have Been". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 3 August 2020.
- "About TIFF '20". TIFF. Retrieved 24 June 2020.
- Rosser, Michael. "Kate Winslet to receive TIFF Tribute Actor Award". Screen Daily. Retrieved 19 July 2020.
- Hammond, Pete (16 July 2020). "Kate Winslet To Receive Toronto Film Festival Tribute Actor Award; Cannes Classics Lineup Revealed". Deadline. Retrieved 1 October 2020.
- Croll, Ben (3 September 2020). "Deauville Film Festival Gets Ready for Guests". Variety. Retrieved 1 October 2020.
- McNary, Dave (17 September 2020). "Hamptons Film Festival Adds 'Ammonite,' 'Wander Darkly' and 'Minari' to Lineup". Variety. Retrieved 1 October 2020.
- McNary, Dave (22 September 2020). "Film News in Brief: Mill Valley Film Festival Announces Lineup". Variety. Retrieved 1 October 2020.
- "Ammonite to open 2020 NewFest as drive-in". NewFest. 9 September 2020. Retrieved 1 October 2020.
- "Ammonite". Film Fest Gent. Retrieved 1 October 2020.
- Orlando Parfitt2020-08-26T08:29:00+01:00. "Francis Lee's 'Ammonite' to close BFI London Film Festival". Screen. Retrieved 1 October 2020.
- Phillips, Michael. "Chicago International Film Festival goes digital AND outdoors, featuring 'Belushi,' Rachel Brosnahan, Kate Winslet, 'One Night in Miami' and 'Nomadland'". chicagotribune.com. Retrieved 1 October 2020.
- McNary, Dave (18 September 2020). "'Nomadland' to Open Montclair Film Festival, 'One Night in Miami' to Close". Variety. Retrieved 1 October 2020.
- Sharf, Zack (25 August 2020). "'Ammonite' Trailer: Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan Unite in Francis Lee's Lesbian Romance". IndieWire. Retrieved 25 August 2020.
- "Ammonite". Transmission Films. Retrieved 13 November 2020.
- "Ammonite". Launching Films. Retrieved 14 December 2020.
- D'Alessandro, Anthony (15 November 2020). "Blumhouse Body Swap Horror Comedy 'Freaky' Takes In $3.7M, On Par With Other No. 1 Pics During Fall Pandemic". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 15 November 2020.
- "Ammonite (2020)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 3 January 2021.
- "Ammonite Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 3 January 2021.
- Rife, Katie (11 November 2020). "Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan Run Hot and Cold in the Period Romance Ammonite". The A. V. Club. Retrieved 11 November 2020.
- "Hollywood Reporter Critics Pick the Best Films of 2020". The Hollywood Reporter. 15 December 2020. Retrieved 15 December 2020.
- "The Best Films of 2020". RogerEbert.com. 15 December 2020. Retrieved 15 December 2020.
- "Ammonite: Who was the real Mary Anning?". 16 October 2020 – via BBC News.
- Singh, Anita (11 March 2019). "Film-makers create fictional same-sex romance to spice up story of 'unsung hero of fossil world'" – via The Daily Telegraph.
- "Mary Anning biopic director defends film's lesbian romance storyline". The Guardian. 19 March 2019.
- "Lesbian storyline defended by film director Francis Lee". 18 March 2019 – via BBC News.
- Black, Riley. "'Ammonite' Is Historical Fan Fiction About the World's First Great Fossil Hunter". Smithsonian Magazine.
- "Behind a lesbian furore over a famous paleontologist lies a deeper truth". Guardian. Retrieved 18 September 2020.
- "British Independent Film Award Noms Led by 'Saint Maud,' 'His House,' 'Calm with Horses'". Indiewire. 9 December 2020. Retrieved 13 January 2021.
- "SFFILM Awards 2020 Sloan Science in Cinema Prize to Francis Lee's 'Ammonite'". San Francisco International Film Festival. 18 December 2020. Retrieved 13 January 2021.
- "17 FEATURE FILMS TO COMPETE FOR THE GOLDEN GIRALDILLO AT THE SEVILLE FESTIVAL". Seville Film Festival. 16 October 2020. Retrieved 13 January 2021.
- "Camerimage Reveals Main Competition Lineup". The Hollywood Reporter. 23 October 2020. Retrieved 13 January 2021.