Sunday, October 9, 2011


By Sati. Sunday, October 9, 2011 , , , , , ,
(111 min, 2009)
Plot: The story of an Irish fisherman who discovers a woman in his fishing net who he believes to be a Selke (a water nymph).
Neil Jordan
Neil Jordan
Stars: Colin Farrell, Alicja Bachleda and Dervla Kirwan

Stories from the sea...

“I'm sitting with you
Sitting in silence
Let's sing into the years, like one
Singing in tune, together
A psalm for no one
Let's sing in tune
But now it's home”

- Sigur Ros, “All Alright”

“Ondine” tells the story of an Irish fisherman who discovers a woman in his fishing net who he believes to be a mermaid.

This is a very lovely and charming movie. It's directed by Neil Jordan, fairly well known director who is responsible for one of the best vampire movies ever “Interview with the Vampire”. But this movie is nothing like it – it doesn't have glamorous stars in the cast, overwhelming images and music. It's set in a simple Irish town, at the coast, where ordinary people have their ordinary lives.

But with the appearance of the mysterious girl, the life of one of those people, fisherman named Syracuse (Colin Farrell) changes. His ill daughter thinks that the girl is a mermaid and starts researching legends about them. The girl herself, who doesn't want to be seen by anyone, tells Syracuse her name is Ondine which means sea fairy. When Ondine is around, Syracuse finally has some luck – he catches a lot of fish, he's happier and his life doesn't seem so ordinary anymore. There is a sense of mystery and enchantment about Ondine, her secrecy and curious song she keeps singing.

The movie is doing great job at showing that even if there may be no real magic in our world, some of the events in our lives may be perceived as one – luck, love, happiness. Mermaid or not, Ondine brings a lot of charm to the lives of Syracuse and little Annie – him, leading dull life so far, filled with regrets and guilt (he is an alcoholic), and Annie having serious illness that costs her much pain. Even though the characters of this film have been through a lot of hurt and misery, they never lose their spirits, they never complain about their fate. They keep on going, because really, what other choice do they have.

The town the events take place is small so Syracuse doesn't go to AA meetings – there aren't any in the area. Instead he goes to confession and talks with the Priest (Stephen Rea, who appears frequently in Jordan's movies). Those scenes bring a lot of comic relief and insight in the character of Syracuse.

There are many lovely scenes between Syracuse and Ondine – she is played by Alicja Bachleda, Polish actress. Farrell and her began their love affair during shooting of this movie, they are still together and have a son. In my country they are probably more popular than Brad and Angelina. And no wonder they fell in love on the set of “Ondine”. Despite the fact it's not a glamorous Hollywood love story, the films is very romantic and has some beautiful lines of dialogue between the two of them.

Even though the movie had fairly low budget the cinematography is outstanding – there are some astonishingly beautiful shots in the movie that combined with the score created by Kjartan Sveinsson from Sigur Ros add to the movie's mystery and frequently create enchanting, dreamlike feeling. All of that builds amazing atmosphere and despite movie's fairly slow pace it keeps you watching.

Farrell's performance is great, he is a very talented and under appreciated actor. He displays such sadness and understanding of his simple fate that it's hard not to feel for him. He is great in his scenes with Annie, played by Alison Barry, who creates very mature and sweet character. Bachleda is perfect fit for Ondine, Jordan chose her because he wanted little known actress to play the part – she is terrific in her scenes with Annie and when she charmingly avoids Syracuse's questions.

Somewhere along in the movie an element of danger appears and results in the answer for the movie's mystery. But in every fairytale there has to be a villain. Near the ending scenes are not as good as first hour of the film, because the amazing atmosphere achieved so far is somewhat abandoned, but I guess the director had to tie all the lose ends somehow. But I did enjoy the ending, which brought us back to the seductive charm of this film.

“Ondine” is a great movie, very original love story between two characters that are lost but had the amazing luck of meeting each other in truly magical circumstances. The movie is not a masterpiece and there are plenty of better love stories, but it has very well developed characters and this unique feel of delicateness – it doesn't hurry the story, the director let's the events unfold slowly. And whilst it's all happening, the mystery is about to be explained and the feeling between Syracuse and Ondine keeps getting stronger, the viewer finds out that there is really so much magic in the world - even in the most unexpected places.


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