“I start, and when the vision’s flown,Mary Anning
I weep and I am all alone.”
Although renowned in the early 19th Century, fossil hunter Mary Anning does not receive the celebration she deserves. Ammonite addresses this, but focuses on her later life through the lens of an entirely speculative relationship. Whilst this feels strange for a real figure, the film uses her character to present an excellent portrayal of repression, isolation and desire. Kate Winslet has shown her preference for naturalistic roles over the glamorous, and that is immediately evident as Anning claws through mud on the grey beaches of Lyme Regis. This contrasts with the high society convalescing young wife played delicately by Saoirse Ronan, impulsive and naïve. When the women’s interest in one another becomes physical, there is a palpable sense of desperation to escape the isolation of their respective lives. Indeed, the most heartbreaking moments of Ammonite come not when Anning is denied happiness, but when we see her own repression pushes her to choose isolation — focusing on her work and spending her time by the sea, the white noise of the waves drowning out the part of her life she knows she is denying.