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Ondine (2009)



Average Rating: 6.3/10
Reviews Counted: 95
Fresh: 66 | Rotten: 29

Flawed but charming, Ondine reaffirms writer-director Neil Jordan's gift for myth, magic, and wonder.


Average Rating: 6.2/10
Critic Reviews: 25
Fresh: 17 | Rotten: 8

Flawed but charming, Ondine reaffirms writer-director Neil Jordan's gift for myth, magic, and wonder.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.3/5
User Ratings: 20,111

My Rating

Movie Info

A man makes a startling discovery that may or may not be magical in this drama from writer and director Neil Jordan. Syracuse (Colin Farrell) is a fisherman who lives in a small town on the Southern coast of Ireland. Syracuse is an alcoholic, and though he's been sober for two years, most of his neighbors still remember him as a embarrassing drunk, while his ex-wife now lives with another man. Syracuse tries to scratch out a living from the ocean and help support his young daughter, Annie


Drama, Science Fiction & Fantasy

Neil Jordan

Sep 21, 2010


Magnolia Pictures - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (96) | Top Critics (25) | Fresh (66) | Rotten (29) | DVD (3)

It's impossibly romantic; Farrell and real-life partner Bachleda exude a tamped-down longing that intensifies as the movie draws to its conclusion.

July 1, 2010 Full Review Source: Miami Herald
Miami Herald
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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.

June 25, 2010 Full Review Source:
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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.

June 25, 2010 Full Review Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Among the film's pleasures is a disarmingly tender performance from the new, improved Colin Farrell.

June 24, 2010 Full Review Source: Boston Globe
Boston Globe
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Silkies aren't the only creatures who can inhabit two worlds. As Annie knows, and as Jordan's film makes clear, stories enable us to step outside the quotidian world and dream, if only for an hour or two.

June 18, 2010 Full Review Source: Washington Post
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Jordan starts to tell an intriguing tale about living with fantasy but falls back on plot turns cued to the flashing lights of cops and paramedics.

June 18, 2010 Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Things start to go awry when we realize that the film's emotional sensitivity doesn't go much deeper than its moody surfaces.

November 13, 2013 Full Review Source: Film Comment Magazine
Film Comment Magazine

An Irish selkie tale for adults.

December 30, 2010 Full Review Source: Laramie Movie Scope
Laramie Movie Scope

Understated in its subversion of, and then canny adherence to, its chosen folklore

November 21, 2010 Full Review Source: Lessons of Darkness
Lessons of Darkness

A fairy tale for adults from Neil Jordan

September 28, 2010 Full Review Source: Movie Habit
Movie Habit

full review at Movies for the Masses

September 11, 2010 Full Review Source: Movies for the Masses
Movies for the Masses

He's an Irishman, she's a seal. It'll never work.

August 26, 2010 Full Review Source: Wisconsin State Journal
Wisconsin State Journal

An imperfect film, but it's the kind of imperfect film with staying power.

August 4, 2010 Full Review Source: Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

Ondine works OK when it's trying to be a romantic fantasy. Screenwriter/director Neil Jordan can't leave well enough alone, though. His fable suddenly turns dark and nasty in the final third, when it becomes a thriller.

July 8, 2010 Full Review Source: Deseret News, Salt Lake City
Deseret News, Salt Lake City

At its most affecting, this uneven quasi-fantasy is about people hungering for myth

July 6, 2010 Full Review Source: CinePassion

Hard to swallow fish tale.

July 3, 2010 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Ondine is one of those lovely things that dissolves beneath too intent a gaze.

July 3, 2010 Full Review Source: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Before we're bogged down in melodrama, we float along as if we're passengers on Syracuse's boat, enjoying the superb performances and the slow rocking rhythm rolling out the love story.

July 2, 2010 Full Review Source: Indie Movies Online
Indie Movies Online

Irish writer-director Neil Jordan will always be best remembered for The Crying Game and its penile plot twist, but there's infinitely more to his filmography than surprise shemales.

July 1, 2010 Full Review Source: Film Threat
Film Threat

Fantastical Neil Jordan drama sees Colin Farrell's best performance yet

June 30, 2010 Full Review Source: Metro Times (Detroit, MI)
Metro Times (Detroit, MI)

Ondine works best when it stays in the dreamy realm of enchantment...

June 27, 2010 Full Review Source: Playback:stl

Has such a breezy, playful sense of despair about it... The appeal is very much its delicacy, both as magical realism love story and bleak story of broken people in a run-down community.

June 25, 2010 Full Review Source: Antagony & Ecstasy
Antagony & Ecstasy

Curiously, Jordan isn't sure what kind of mermaid movie to make.

June 25, 2010 Full Review Source: | Comment (1)

Audience Reviews for Ondine

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.
November 5, 2013

Super Reviewer

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?"
June 13, 2011
Dean McKenna

Super Reviewer

Niel Jordan's take on the fairytale genre is completely the opposite of what you'd expect. Mainly because it doesn't mind being one for the most part. The only real criticism that is given to the Knight in Shining Armor/Damsel in Distress scenario is that everyone has a past; these people had lives before they fell in love. With Colin Farrell's Syracuse, we basically see his weaknesses from the start, but Ondine's are a lot more misleading and complex. In terms of its physical beauty, Ondine is one powerful looking movie. The cinematography is either something people will love or hate, but I definitely saw it as a thing of mastery. It does a great job of setting up the mood for the story. The thing about Ondine is that it's a highly optimistic story set in an extremely hopeless world and it's executed in a way that you know that without anyone having to tell you straight out. The character interaction and development of Syracuse and Ondine's relationship is presented in a completely flawless way. Maybe that is in part due to the fact that Colin Farrell and Alicja Bachleda are so undeniably in love; it's chemistry that you just can't buy. Now a lot of people might have trouble accepting Ondine for what it is and what it wants to do, but if you take the time to invest into the characters and story it's hard to not be impressed.
May 24, 2011

Super Reviewer

Ondine's story is a little tiny wisp of a narrative strand, but it's so beautiful and magical I almost can't stand it.
May 1, 2011

Super Reviewer

    1. Priest: Misery is easy. Happiness you have to work at.
    – Submitted by Chris P (2 years ago)
    1. Syracuse: She sings to the fishes and he catches them.
    – Submitted by Chris P (2 years ago)
View all quotes (2)

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Foreign Titles

  • OndineOndine - Das Mädchen aus dem Meer (DE)
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