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Critic Reviews for Ondine
It's impossibly romantic; Farrell and real-life partner Bachleda exude a tamped-down longing that intensifies as the movie draws to its conclusion.
Some complexities of story will be lost on audiences not tuned to the regional Irish brogue that is the mother tongue of this little fishing community. But Christopher Doyle's dark lush photography plucks the green coast of Cork like a harp.
Ondine is dipped in whimsy and might have drifted out to sea, but it's bounded on four sides by love stories - between a father and a daughter, a man and a mermaid, an actor and his co-star, and a director and his country.
Things start to go awry when we realize that the film's emotional sensitivity doesn't go much deeper than its moody surfaces.
Audience Reviews for Ondine
Though flawed in a few aspects, this decent little film is well balanced between melancholy and poetic, and it tells more about the viewer than the characters, since there will be diverse feelings about the ending depending if you are more of a realist or a romantic.
Colin Farrell plays Syracuse, a fisherman who unknowingly nets Ondine, an ethereal beauty who to his surprise is alive... and to his dismay remains completely mysterious as to who she is and why she doesn't want to be seen by anyone else. Syracuse's young daughter, suffering from kidney disease, suggests that the secretive Ondine might be a Selkie; a (supposedly) mythical sea creature that can take human form when it falls in love at first sight with the right person. Syracuse is skeptical until his luck changes for the better, which he suspects may have something to do with Ondine's tendency to break into song (coincidentally a Selkie trait). Before long romance ensues.
"Ondine" is a beautiful modern fairytale, from the versatile and vastly underrated Neil Jordan. There's an elegance and poetic minimalism here that perfectly sells this simple and rather somber story. The lush Irish countryside pops through the lens of Christopher Doyle, and Jordan really establishes a time and place here. It all feels vividly real and indescribably dreamlike. Perfect grounds for a fairy tale.
Colin Farrell plays an ex-alcoholic every man, and for an actor of such movie star charisma and uneven public opinion, it's always nice to see him disappear into smaller, less obvious fare. He's good here as always, but Alicja Bachleda as Ondine is such a striking presence; mystifying and completely synonymous with this film. Both however are outclassed by the young Alison Barry. Playing farrell's daughter she steals every scene with quick-wit and timing well beyond her age.
The film's conclusion is the only thing that I can see really dividing viewers. Jordan takes things in a rather dark direction towards the end, and I can see this spoiling the established tone and charm for some. It's unexpected and akin to most classic fairytales, and I personally appreciated the change in pace. "Ondine" is so good that it even makes a few obvious cliches (the ex-drunk who starts to drink again for a little emotional manipulation/ the priest who acts as the main character's muse and is way more open-minded and understanding than actual priests) seem less than detrimental.
"Ondine" is a really good movie from one of the most underappreciated filmmakers currently working. A great find for anyone looking for something out of the ordinary.
I respond well to movies with honesty and heart, and Ondine has plenty of both. Set in an Irish fishing town, you can also feel the love and respect of the filmmaker for the rugged and beautiful setting. The performances are excellent, with especially good work by the the young Alison Barry playing the part of Colin Farrell's daughter, who suffers from kidney failure and must undergo regular dialysis (reminded me of the early work of Dakota Fanning).
The film's "feel" is a bit darker than I expected, making the injections of wry Irish humor in Colin's confessions to the priest (played by Stephen Rea) even more enjoyable. The script keeps you wondering until very near the end, "Is this really a modern fairy tale, or is there a more earthly explanation?"
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