Movie evaluate: Ammonite and Wander Darkly
Writer-director Francis Lees Ammonite (Cert. 15) is, as he says, “an imaginary, respectful snapshot” of paleontologist Mary Anning (1799-1847) (Faith, November 2, 2018), a working class dissident who largely is ignored by the Anglican-dominated scientific community. The Reverend William Conybeare published the first scientific paper based on the discovery of a giant ichthyosaur by the young Mary. Another clergyman, William Buckland, accompanied her on many expeditions that convinced him and others that these fossils were living things.
Instead of Mary's geological discoveries, Lee attracts her refusal to conform. Mary (Kate Winslet) lives from hand to mouth with her sick mother (Gemma Jones). As shown here, these are closed personalities who hardly speak to one another, let alone to others. Mary's education at the Lyme Regis Congregationalist Sunday School gave her a start in pursuing the interests she now remembers. However, Lee focuses on how we can emerge from past pasts.
The opportunity arises to take care of the depressed wife of a gentleman, Charlotte (Saoirse Ronan). First of all, a financial transaction is all that it is. This is where the ammonite metaphor comes into play rather persistently. The film is a study of two petrified people locked inside themselves. Everyone needed someone to flake off the outer crust that hid their true self. In this male-dominated setting, Lee explores the difficulty scarred women have in being open and vulnerable enough to be loved. Social and geographical isolation due to gender and class has closed every life of the mind. Work and duty have replaced affection and intimacy.
All of the ammonite is practically a fiction. Lee admits that there is no evidence that Mary ever had sexual relations. Mary struggles with a God determined way of life that is set in stone. Your daily task along a Jurassic coast where the sea is giving up its dead is to find out how the past is a commentary on our present. By carefully breaking stones, her trained eye discovers all of his beauty elements of creation and its creator, although Ammonite does not openly explore Mary's religious beliefs.
While the church bells are ringing, she works her way off. (In later years, there is evidence that she regularly attended Anglican church services.) Earlier, when Charlotte remained unwell, Mary bought restorative medicine from a former lover, Elizabeth Philpot (Fiona Shaw). Unresolved feelings about their failed relationship are expressed in the fact that they have not recently seen Mary in church.
In this tenderly overplayed scene, we see someone who has withdrawn into their shell. Even after Charlotte later freed her from this tank, Mary remains suspicious of well-intentioned efforts to create a new life together. Something in him that has always been denied still has power. Throughout the film, like Mary, we are asked why we seek the living among the dead, when love welcomes us all the time, when we can only accept the invitation. It may take ammonite some time to extract the gem buried beneath aeons of sediment, but it's a story worth telling.
The film Hike dark (Cert. 15), neatly packaged as a thriller, is indeed a fascinating interpretation of the study of solipsism. The philosophical theory that nothing exists in this present world but me and my senses is turned on its head.
Diego Luna and Sienna Miller as Matteo and Adrienne in Wander Darkly
After a terrible car accident, Adrienne (Sienna Miller) wonders if she still exists. Not only are there out-of-body experiences in the hospital, but in the morgue we look down on her corpse. Adrienne believes she has died and refuses to talk to her partner Matteo (Diego Luna), who survived the accident. Couldn't it all be like a dream? To prove that she is no longer here, an attempt is made to harmlessly throw herself off a bridge. Matteo saves her. “Spend eternity on the autobahn? Do we deserve this? "he asks. Or, she replies, is that purgatory?
Despite his various means of demonstrating that she is still alive, Adrienne distrusts them all. “What if you're wrong? What if it's a sad story?” Through a series of conversations, they recall key stages in their relationship, but memories vary. Adrienne is mostly negative about her treatment and sees herself as a victim. Matteo sees things differently. At the root, something grows apart over time, which leads to everyone viewing the other as an unreliable narrator. We know from flashbacks that they both think their early days together were bliss.
In one scene, a copy of Harold Brodkey's The Runaway Soul is on Adrienne's bookshelf. The sight of this solipsistic novel is a sign of the Proustian introspection that followed. What we don't know is whether all of this agony is only in Adrienne's head or a call to Matteo from beyond the grave. If the latter is the case, then unlike films like Carousel, Ghost and The Sixth Sense, Adrienne is not a friendly ghost who assures those left behind that they will never go alone. Her Roman Catholic upbringing offers little hope or comfort. "What if after you die it is bad, an extension of your worst fears?" she asks Matteo. The breakup with her young daughter and resentment over Matteo's reluctance to be married or pursue a career feed the agony of that soul.
Wander Darkly raises many questions related to human existence and purpose. At some point Adrienne sees the film Night of the Living Dead; But is this woman the zombie she thinks she is? A nirvana t-shirt for much of the film could suggest that Adrienne was striving for this transcendent state of liberation from worldly worries. That would leave a lot of unfinished business.
In a moment of self-revelation, she acknowledges how difficult she made it for Matteo to love her. She longs for time to change her life. Here a quasi-Buddhist view gives way to hope for resurrection. Or is it?
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