Photos and video are pouring in this week from the set of Ammonite. Set and filmed on the English coast, this movie — directed by Francis Lee (God’s Own Country), starring Kate Winslet (Titanic, Revolutionary Road) and Saoirse Ronan (Atonement, Lady Bird) — tells the love story of Mary Anning, a real life British paleontologist from the early 19th century.
Later in her career, Anning, played by the ever illuminating Kate Winslet, is working on the seaside, and one day she meets a young woman, Ronan, who moved there for her health, and goes on to rejuvenate Anning in ways she dared not expect. So we’re expecting some cross of Carol, Pride and Prejudice, and Jurassic Park? Scheduled for release in 2020.
In the first batch, a handful of stills and short clip show us the a scene of Saoirse Ronan filming a very animated nervous breakdown directly at the water’s edge. There’s a wagon that was wheeled all the way down there for some reason, and then in the clip, she appears to come out of the back of the wagon and proceed to have some kind of fit.
The setting of the film is a type of vacation resort town, it sounds like this is the more euphemistic kind of vacation resort, where people go to take a much needed break from daily life. Maybe the pictured scene relates to that kind of condition? A story about two women finding each other right when they both needed it most?
Another batch of photos actually show the two together, apparently taking a stroll down a high street of some sort. We see the two actors, Winslet and Ronan, give their on screen relationship a chance to grow.
Mary Anning was a famous paleontologist, geologist, and entrepreneur, most active in the 1820s and 30s. She uncovered many fossils along the British coastline, including one of the first Ichthyosaurs, and many of the titular Ammonites, an ancient, spiraling, mollusc.
As a final twist, which could turn this news either tasteless or merely odd, depending — recent authorities on the life and times of Mary Anning have flatly contradicted the premise of the movie, denying there being any evidence that she was a lesbian at all. Her living family, and foremost Anning scholars, argue that the relationship depicted in the movie isn’t based in history or fact.
Whether it breaks new ground in Victorian sexuality, turns into a study of the bounds of female companionship, or fails to do either or those things, the ending of this movie romance will at least be a change of pace from Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.