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Ondine (2010)


Average Rating: 6.3/10
Reviews Counted: 96
Fresh: 67 | Rotten: 29

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

Average Rating: 6.2/10
Critic Reviews: 26
Fresh: 18 | Rotten: 8

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


Average Rating: 3.3/5
User Ratings: 20,257


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 … More

PG-13 (for some violence, sensuality and brief strong language)
Drama , Science Fiction & Fantasy
Directed By:
Written By:
Neil Jordan
In Theaters:
Sep 21, 2010
Box Office:
Magnolia Pictures - Official Site



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Critic Reviews for Ondine

All Critics (97) | Top Critics (26) | Fresh (67) | 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.

Full Review… | July 1, 2010
Miami Herald
Top 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.

Full Review… | June 25, 2010
Top 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.

Full Review… | June 25, 2010
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | June 24, 2010
Boston Globe
Top 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.

Full Review… | June 18, 2010
Washington Post
Top 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.

Full Review… | June 18, 2010
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | November 13, 2013
Film Comment Magazine

An Irish selkie tale for adults.

Full Review… | December 30, 2010
Laramie Movie Scope

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

Full Review… | November 21, 2010
Lessons of Darkness

A fairy tale for adults from Neil Jordan

Full Review… | September 28, 2010
Movie Habit

full review at Movies for the Masses

Full Review… | September 11, 2010
Movies for the Masses

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

Full Review… | August 26, 2010
Wisconsin State Journal

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

Full Review… | August 4, 2010
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.

Full Review… | July 8, 2010
Deseret News, Salt Lake City

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

Full Review… | July 6, 2010

Hard to swallow fish tale.

Full Review… | July 3, 2010
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

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

Full Review… | July 3, 2010
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.

Full Review… | July 2, 2010
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.

Full Review… | July 1, 2010
Film Threat

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

Full Review… | June 30, 2010
Metro Times (Detroit, MI)

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

Full Review… | June 27, 2010

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.

Full Review… | June 25, 2010
Antagony & Ecstasy

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

Full Review… | June 25, 2010

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.

Michael S

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?"

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.

Conner Rainwater

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.

Jennifer Xu

Super Reviewer

Ondine Quotes

Priest: Misery is easy. Happiness you have to work at.
– Submitted by Chris P (3 years ago)
Syracuse: She sings to the fishes and he catches them.
– Submitted by Chris P (3 years ago)

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