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Kate Winslet dusts off her hammer and frock for this romantic biopic about the Victorian palaeontologist Mary Anning. On the rainy, windy Dorset coast in the 1840s, she finds fossils and steamy love in the form of Charlotte (Saoirse Ronan), the wife of a client. It’s one of the best performances of Winslet’s career, says Guy Lodge on the website Film of the Week, “more complex and soulfully felt than some of her most glitteringly rewarded roles, and matched to a film of equally tough-minded grace”.
The real-life record of Anning’s life is “spotty”, says Danny Leigh in the Financial Times, and Ammonite’s director, Francis Lee, fills in the blanks with “plenty of creative licence”, especially when it comes to its central lesbian relationship. Lee won acclaim for his debut feature, God’s Own Country (a gay romance set in Yorkshire), and this is “another tenderly executed triumph”, says Empire. At its centre is an “enchanting, singular sex scene” in which Winslet’s “strong legs, belly and breasts” are bathed in a “gaslamp lustre”. What Ammonite lacks in terms of story, it makes up for in “absorbing craftsmanship” – and when a film-maker captures intimacy as “intuitively” as Lee, “there can never be too much of a good thing”.
The critics may be “mooning” over the film, but I’m not, says Zoe Strimpel in The Sunday Telegraph. We’re living in an age when “historical accuracy has been superseded by the demands of a raging fixation with identify politics and political correctness”. And among the chief culprits are TV and film, now being made by people “who have drunk deeply from the trough of woke Kool-Aid”. Ammonite is only the latest example of this “troubling revisionist impulse”. Lee may have earned the gushing plaudits of the left-wing press, and is no doubt delighted he has “put one in the eye of homophobic western culture” by homing in on Anning’s sex life and embroiling this remarkable woman in an “entirely speculative” lesbian relationship. But however enjoyable it is, Ammonite, like The Crown, is fake history.
Ammonite is available on streaming platforms. Watch the trailer here.
Line of Duty: the verdict
“I tuned into Line of Duty at 9pm – and by 10 past had given up,” says Sarah Vine in The Mail on Sunday. “I know this is blasphemy, but it was unwatchable. I might as well have been watching the Alex Salmond inquiry.”
The plot has come to resemble “one of those maths problems you can fully understand only for about 20 seconds”, says Hugo Rifkind in The Times. Up to a point this was also true of previous series, but at least they kept you hooked. This one doesn’t.
It is a “bit of a slog”, says Anita Singh in the Telegraph. “A character would explain something, and I thought I understood, and then I’d have to rewind to make sure.” Newcomers could be forgiven for “throwing in the towel”, but “I’m sticking with it, hoping for better things next week”. The Observer’s Euan Ferguson is sticking with it too. “I have hopes for Macdonald as the most intriguing villain yet – Line of Duty MkVI will keep us going for seven weeks.”
Line of Duty is on BBC1 and iPlayer.
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Tina Turner has long wanted to stop answering journalists’ questions about her abusive ex-husband, Ike, says Vanity Fair. At 81 she largely gets her wish, with HBO’s “whirling rock documentary”. Although Turner speaks authoritatively about her celebrity and personal life, she isn’t directly asked to revisit the “sordid details” of her abuse. The result is a “definitive” film that catches the complexity of her character as well as her “talent and depth”.
“Gory details” emerge amid the archive footage and interviews with Oprah, Angela Bassett and others, says Rolling Stone. In one of the “spookiest sequences of any recent doc”, we hear Tina and her late son Craig, who killed himself in 2018, recount Ike’s abuse over footage of the now-deserted family house. We feel as if we are watching a “horror film”, especially when Craig describes hearing his mother’s screams from next door.
But Turner should be remembered for more than her relationship with Ike, says Slate, and the closing minutes of Tina are a vivid reminder of her “power, precision, and otherworldly charisma”. A live performance of the Beatles classic Help! “extracts the latent blues from John Lennon’s original and foregrounds it, transforming a song that you’ve heard thousands of times into something you’re suddenly hearing with fresh ears”. It’s “transporting, the work of a great master”.
Tina is available on Sky Documentaries and Now TV. Watch the trailer here.