Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan are falling in love in the first trailer for Ammonite, a controversial romantic drama that’s being tipped for Oscars.
The film tells the story of paleontologist and fossil hunter Mary Anning, played by Winslet, whose discoveries were often overlooked during her life in the early 19th century. Director Francis Lee, who broke out with the acclaimed gay romance God’s Own Country, received criticism last year when it was announced that his film would focus on a romance that Anning shared with another woman, Charlotte Murchison, played by Ronan.
“I do not believe there is any evidence to back up portraying her as a gay woman,” family member Barbara Anning said to the Telegraph, calling the decision “sensational”. Another relative, Lorraine Anning, disagreed saying that “as long as it’s well presented and tastefully done” then it doesn’t matter.
Lee defended the decision on Twitter writing: “After seeing queer history be routinely ‘straightened’ throughout culture, and given a historical figure where there is no evidence whatsoever of a heterosexual relationship, is it not permissible to view that person within another context?”
Earlier this year, Lee also stated that “it’s not a biopic” but is inspired by Anning’s life and also his research into same-sex female relationships of the period. “The idea of two women actually in a relationship together was just not a thought anybody ever had within society,” he said.
Anning’s contributions have recently achieved more attention with London’s Natural History Museum naming a room after her. She was also a candidate to have her face included on a £50 note.
Ammonite was set to premiere at this year’s Cannes film festival but will now receive its first screening next month as part of this year’s Toronto film festival. It’s set to be one of the first unveiled contenders for an unusual awards season. Ronan has amassed four Oscar nominations, including most recently for Little Women, while Winslet has won one and received another six nods.
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