A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Ammonite is a sexually graphic period drama that celebrates the power of love between two women. It is loosely based on the life of the British palaeontologist Mary Anning (Kate Winslet). Mary meets Charlotte Murchison (Saoirse Ronan) after Charlotte's husband arranges for her to work with Mary. The two women begin an affair, bringing them both happiness they haven't experienced before. Charlotte suffers from depression, but this romantic awakening gives her a new positive outlook. Both characters have a quiet strength about them. Mary, in particular, defies societal boundaries to make a great success for herself in her chosen field. That said, the movie also demonstrates the inequalities between the sexes during this time period (the 1840s), with Mary being prevented from even greater success. The sex scenes between Mary and Charlotte are graphic but not gratuitous. They perform oral sex on each other and masturbate. There's full-frontal nudity, including female genitalia and breasts. There is also a brief moment where a male character undresses and his penis is seen. Swearing is infrequent but includes "f--k" and "s--t." Characters drink alcohol socially, and one character smokes throughout the movie.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Set in the 1840s, AMMONITE finds respected fossil hunter Mary Anning (Kate Winslet) spending her days working diligently on the south coast of England. Her life is rocked when a wealthy researcher pays for his wife Charlotte (Saoirse Ronan) to shadow her at work, in a bid to improve her mental health. While the two women clash at first, an intense romantic relationship soon develops.
Is it any good?
Ammonite is a film that thrives in its mood, a beautifully shot, visceral piece of filmmaking by Francis Lee, that shows off his ability as a storyteller, so poetic with his camera. Though, as a follow-up to the wonderful God's Own Country, this movie does feel inferior, mostly in the relationship at the core of the story.
The two central performances by Winslet and Ronan are unsurprisingly brilliant. Both women are so subtle in their depictions, allowing much of this tale to be told in the sub-text. But there's something missing in the love they depict. It lacks a spark, and subsequently it's not easy for the viewer to fully invest in their relationship. This is sadly reflective of a movie that just lacks a little substance to do justice to the stylistic talents of those behind the lens.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Ammonite portrays sex. Is it affectionate? Respectful? Parents, talk to your teens about your own values regarding sex and relationships.
Discuss the time period that the movie is set in. How are women viewed and treated? Are you surprised to see what women went through? How does this compare to today?
How does the movie handle the subject of sexuality? How might Mary and Charlotte's relationship be received today in comparison to the 1840s?
Charlotte suffers from depression. Did it seem a realistic portrayal of someone suffering from the illness? Charlotte is forced to endure much of her illness alone. Why is it important that we are open about our mental health and feelings?
Mary Anning was a highly-skilled fossil hunter, putting in so much craft and dedication to her work. Would you describe her as a role model? Why or why not? What other female role models can you think of?
- In theaters: November 13, 2020
- On DVD or streaming: January 12, 2021
- Cast: Kate Winslet, Saoirse Ronan, Gemma Jones
- Director: Francis Lee
- Studio: Neon
- Genre: Romance
- Topics: History, Science and Nature
- Character strengths: Curiosity, Perseverance
- Run time: 117 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: graphic sexuality, some graphic nudity and brief language
- Last updated: January 12, 2021
Our editors recommend
For kids who love drama
Find more movies that help kids build character.
Themes & Topics
Browse titles with similar subject matter.
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
Streaming options powered by JustWatch