Two trailers were released today that are getting some attention on social media: Sarah just posted about Enola Holmes and now there’s also Ammonite, starring Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan. I never knew that an ammonite is called an ammonite until today. I mean I know what it’s called in Chinese, because I’ve seen it my whole life when my ma talks about feng shui, but I’ve never had to say it in English until now.
Basically an ammonite is a fossil. Spiritually though it is associated with energy – in many cultures, it is believed that ammonites carry in them the energy of the past, and that energy can be used to restore or repair the energy of the present. With that mind, we get to the story of Ammonite, the film.
I love that we meet Kate’s character through her job – and that we are meant to know immediately that she’s great at her job, perhaps the best at her job. This is where the attraction begins between her and Saoirse, described as being afflicted with “melancholia” but of course, we all understand that what she’s really struggling with, as so many women were in Victorian times, is a lack of agency, the societal restriction that bound them to living lives determined for them by men. The “melancholia” here, really, is the patriarchy. The patriarchy has decided that it’s best for her to spend time with a woman whose work is acknowledged to be masterful and ends up featured in museums but probably without proper credit. Her gift, however, is truly appreciated and seen, and then loved, by someone who also is unseen and unappreciated.
What develops out of this admiration is romance…and SWOON!
We are in desperate times, yes. But at the same time, I feel like we are also in horny times. People miss physical and emotional contact. People miss connection. And here we have a film about the birth of deep connection between two women, set in a period when expressions of connection, of desire, were not as public as we see now. Desire was privately communicated – through written correspondence; this is why there’s been so much academia on letters written between lovers, and subsequent conclusions drawn as historians have analysed libraries full of letters, particularly between women from that time, sharing their forbidden yearning for each other on a piece of paper. Their written declarations of love are now fossils too, their energy preserved on the page, every word imbued with all the longing and lust they couldn’t physically exchange.
I’ve never been one for a restrained romance – at least not until recently. Romance novels set in Victorian times aren’t my kink. I like my romance direct and unsubtle. I want to see people banging. I like the foreplay but I need the score. This year though, since the pandemic started, now that we’re all so far apart from each other, and this distance continues to extend, long gazes thick with tension, closeup scenes of two hands grazing each other, lingering shots of a shoulder, the small of a woman’s back, just the sound of someone breathing with palpable craving…
This is doing it for me. It’s one of the reasons I was so obsessed with It’s Okay To Not Be Okay on Netflix. Every episode was over an hour and, technically, on plot, it didn’t have to be. But they were so long because the editors left in all the eye-f-cking, their two leads doing nothing on screen except staring at each other for long stretches – and it didn’t feel like it was too much for nothing. When the chemistry is there, it moves as quickly, becomes as explosive, as an action sequence.
This is what Ammonite is doing in this trailer and what I imagine what we’ll see in the film. We are by the sea, the wind is whipping, the colour scheme is grey, dull, almost lifeless but that placidity only heightens the urgency between these two people, putting their obvious sexual and emotional tension into what feels like bursting shades of purple and red as the violin plays to climax. So their energy is the colour, you don’t need to see it. It’s the energy that’s awakened – and, presumably, it’s the kind of energy, the energy believed to be embedded in ammonites, that will ultimately heal. I cannot wait to see this movie.