January 16, 2021 – With its Oscar-bait November opening and lots of meaningful emotional glances, the lesbian love story loosely based on the life of famed paleontologist Mary Anning (1799–1847) will no doubt get some recognition this year.
Mary, played by Kate Winslet (“Titanic”) is shown gathering fossils near her home in Lyme Regis in Southwest England. She lives with her mother, Molly (Gemma Jones of “Rocketman”) and makes a modest living selling fossils in a shop attached to her house. Most of the people who shop there don't realize that she is not just a collector of rocks, but a historically important, ground-breaking paleontologist.
One day, a man comes into her shop who is aware how important she is, Roderick Murchison (James McArdle of “Mary Queen of Scots”) a wealthy geologist who is willing to pay to learn Mary's research methods.
After observing Mary at work, he asks her to look after his wife for several weeks. His wife, Charlotte (Saoirse Ronan of “Little Women”) suffers from melancholia and cannot travel with him. For a fee, Mary agrees to look after Charlotte, but this is where the delicate, but increasingly passionate glances start to come into play.
Charlotte comes down with a fever and Mary takes care of her, with the aid of Doctor Lieberson (Alec Secareanu of “God's Own Country”). Gradually, the two woman develop a relationship that turns into a torrid lesbian sexual relationship, but it all has to end when Charlotte goes back to live with her husband.
There is a final scene between the two women sometime later featuring an obvious visual representation of the distance between them. This is a good-looking, well-acted awards season film, not unlike last year's “Portrait of a Lady on Fire,” but somewhat less complex in its depiction of relationships. This movie does have several references to an earlier personal relationship that Mary had with another fossil collector, Elizabeth Philpot (played by Fiona Shaw in the Harry Potter movies). Evidently, that relationship did not end well.
While there is a nice, playful scene between the two lovers in the ocean, and a scene involving jealousy at a recital, for the most part, the two women circle each other warily, careful not to show too much emotion. They are very reserved. This is a somewhat delicate movie in that regard. The location cinematography from Stéphane Fontaine (‘Jackie’) is also very atmospheric.
For the most part, this is a very predictable movie. In one scene, Mary's mother leaves the room and I absolutely knew exactly what would happen next. This is a predictable story of forbidden love, and it follows a well-worn path to its sad conclusion. So the only concern is, just how well is the story told. Pretty well, actually. This movie rates a B.
Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in digital formats, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff (no extra charges apply). I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.