In the 1840s, Mary Anning (Kate Winslet) toils away in Lyme Regis on England’s rugged southern coast, a prominent but largely unsung paleontologist. Her major discoveries are things of the past; she’s reconciled to peddling garden variety fossils to affluent tourists in order to make ends meet. However, when she reluctantly takes on the well-compensated task of caring for Charlotte Murchison (Saoirse Ronan), an emotionally wounded young bride in need of convalescence, she uncovers a new source of passion in her exceedingly hard-scrabble life. As her attraction is reciprocated, these women from disparate classes find solace – and fleeting gratification – in one another’s company.
Deftly employing the same sensitivity and sensuality that made God’s Own Country (VIFF 17) such a noteworthy debut feature, writer-director Francis Lee stages another absorbing crucible, eloquently punctuated by disarming vulnerability and carnality. As Mary and Charlotte’s relationship intensifies and they navigate the unknown, Winslet and Ronan deliver understated yet utterly devastating performances. Stark yet heartfelt, this is a transcendent love story.
Kate Winslet, Saoirse Ronan, Gemma Jones, James McArdle, Alec Secareanu, Fiona Shaw
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Photo: ©Agatha Nitecka (Courtesy NEON)