This intense and compelling drama is a stunning screen version of a novella by A.S. Byatt about sex and science in Victorian society.

After losing all his specimens in a shipwreck while returning from South America to England in 1858, naturalist William Adamson (Mark Rylance) is graciously taken in by the Rev. Harald Alabaster (Jeremy Kemp), an amateur insect collector. The sensitive scientist falls in love with his patron's beautiful daughter (Patsy Kensit) who agrees to marry him.

William then finds a partner for a research project on life in an ant colony in Matty Crompton (Kristin Scott Thomas), a poor relative who turns out to be a talented artist and writer. His skill at uncovering hidden worlds, however, seems to be restricted to insects. He is shattered when he learns an Alabaster family secret that turns his life upside down.

Director Philip Haas (The Music of Chance) cooks up a complicated visual and verbal stew with this piercing drama about the mysteries of science and human passion. Kristin Thomas Scott turns in a stirring performance as a late bloomer.