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Movie Review


Alicja Bachleda and Colin Farrell in "Ondine"

Half star
Rated PG-13 for brief strong language, some violence and sensuality. 1 hour, 51 minutes.
Publication date: Jun. 11, 2010
Review by Renata Polt
Released: (2010)

Fairy tales, kidney failure, sexy underwear, ominous organ music, the misty Irish coast, drugs: Mix them all together and what do you get? "Ondine," an abject mess of a movie, oddly featuring several big names. Its writer/director is Neil Jordan ("Michael Collins, The Crying Game," etc.), and it stars Colin Farrell ("In Bruges") and Stephen Rea ("The Crying Game").

Colin Farrell plays Syracuse, a divorced fisherman, and father of Annie (Alison Barry), whose kidney disease keeps her mostly in a wheelchair. Alison Barry is one cute kid, but she?s given annoyingly wise lines and recites them like a homework assignment. Maybe she?ll become a good actress in time, but she has a ways to go.

Out fishing on his boat one day, Syracuse hauls up a beautiful woman (Polish actress Alicja Bachleda) in his net. After throwing up all the sea water she?s swallowed, the woman says her name is Ondine, as in the mythological water sprite, inspiration for ballets, operas, statues and the like. With her eerie singing, Ondine brings Syracuse luck, as he catches load after enormous load of fish and lobster.

Afraid to be taken to a hospital or be seen by anyone but her rescuer, Ondine takes refuge in Syracuse?s late mother?s remote cottage, where she?s eventually spotted by Annie, who has acquired a motorized wheelchair and become mobile. Annie theorizes that Ondine is a selkie, a mythical half-seal/half-human being. Maybe she is. Or not.

Like a boat taking on water, the story becomes awash in ever more plot lines, what with Syracuse?s boozy ex and her equally unstable boyfriend, Syracuse?s relationship with the parish priest (Stephen Rea), the appearance of a mysterious dark stranger, and a fatal accident. Looking at the lovely Irish settings would have provided some consolation -- except that the film seems to have been shot through a murky blue filter.

It?s possible that filmmaker Neil Jordan had his heart in this project, but how to explain the participation of first-rate actors such as Farrell and Rea? Maybe we can blame economic necessity: Ireland, flush in the oil boom not long ago, appears to have hit the economic skids, like Greece, Portugal, Spain ...