Winslet stars as paleontologist Mary Anning who falls in love with a woman sent to learn from her (Ronan).

By Nick Romano
August 25, 2020 at 09:00 AM EDT
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This is a story about the power of touch.

The first trailer for Ammonite, starring Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan, sends us back to 1840s England where paleontologist Mary Anning hunts for fossils along the beach. It's a time when women didn't have much of a voice societally and where "melancholia" was used to explain away the deeply rooted effects of patriarchal oppression. It's also the kind of era where same-sex relationships behind closed doors sparked the kind of "she never married but she had a striking friendship with her roommate" response.

It's here where love blossoms between Mary (Winslet) and Charlotte Murchison (Ronan), a young married woman sent to convalesce with Mary in the hopes of curing her melancholia. The first footage released from this awards-season contender is a rush of dizzying snapshots of romance, the female gaze, and connection.

Directed Francis Lee, who previously helmed the award-winning, touching film God's Own Country, finished shooting Ammonite right before pandemic-prompted lockdowns went into effect. So, we're still on track to get ahold of this movie on Nov. 13.

"I was very drawn to that period because of this wonderful research into same-sex female relationships of the period that are all very well documented with letters to each other, demonstrating wonderful, life-long, passionate, intense, emotional relationships," Lee told EW. "And I was fascinated to set this film in a period that was totally patriarchal 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."

Ultimately, he says, this movie is about "the power of love; the power of a deep, intimate, human relationship; the power of touch; and hope."

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