With the first-time pairing of Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan, plus the return of “God’s Own Country” writer-director Francis Lee, “Ammonite” has ranked high on the list of the year’s most anticipated films since Neon acquired distribution rights to the romance drama in January. The first official trailer for the movie has now debuted online, and it combines a similar narrative to “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” with the carnal passion that made “God’s Own Country” such a directorial breakthrough for Lee in 2017.
Oscar winner Winslet leads “Ammonite” as famed British paleontologist Mary Anning. Lee’s script is set during the 1840s in a coastal town in the United Kingdom where Anning befriends a London woman (Ronan) to whom she must unexpectedly play nursemaid. The supporting cast includes Fiona Shaw, James McArdle, Gemma Jones, and Lee’s “God’s Own Country” actor Alec Secăreanu.
“Ammonite” is an official selection of the 2020 Cannes Film Festival and the 2020 Telluride Film Festival, both of which were canceled this year amid the coronavirus pandemic. The film is set to screen at the Toronto International Film Festival in September, which is hosting virtual screenings for press. TIFF co-head Cameron Bailey told IndieWire in July that Winslet’s performance in “Ammonite” is the best work he’s ever seen from the actress.
With the backing of three major fall festivals, “Ammonite” is being viewed as a major Oscar contender for Neon, which is coming off the history-making success of Best Picture winner “Parasite” at the Oscars in February. Winslet is an Oscar winner for “The Reader,” while Ronan is a four-time nominee.
Speaking to Entertainment Weekly earlier this summer, Lee said his film is about “the power of love; the power of a deep, intimate, human relationship; the power of touch; and hope.”
“I was fascinated to set this film in a period that was totally patriarchal,” Lee added, “and where women were completely owned by their fathers or their husbands, and looking at how they live within that world, and also in a world where, at that time, the medical profession believed that women had no sexual-pleasure organs. So, the idea of two women actually in a relationship together was just not a thought anybody ever had within society.”
Neon will release “Ammonite” in theaters November 13. Watch the trailer for the lesbian romance drama in the video below.