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ONDINE is the story of Syracuse, a simple fisherman who catches a beautiful and mysterious woman in his trawler nets. The woman seems to be dead, but then she comes alive before Syracuse s eyes, and he thinks he may be seeing things. However, with the help of his irrepressible daughter, Annie, he comes to believe that the fantastical might be possible and that the woman (Ondine) might be a myth come true. Ondine and Syracuse fall passionately in love, but just as we think the fairytale might go on forever, the real world intercedes.
Colin Farrell shows his soulful side in Ondine, a lovely Irish drama from director Neil Jordan (The Crying Game, Breakfast on Pluto). Syracuse (Farrell), a down-on-his-luck fisherman called Circus by friends and foes alike due to his formerly boozy ways, pulls up his net one morning to find a beautiful, near-drowned woman in it. She calls herself Ondine (Polish actress Alicja Bachleda) and Syracuse's daughter Annie (charming newcomer Alison Barry) thinks she's a selkie (a seal that's taken human form and can grant wishes). Ondine is happy to feed Annie's fantasies, and Syracuse is pretty convinced himself--but things take a dark turn as Annie's illness and Ondine's past intrude on this sweet fantasy. Ondine has a different feel than typical Hollywood fare; events that in most movies would be hyped and emphasized (such as a plot-turning car crash) here pass with jolting swiftness. Instead, Ondine lingers on the interplay between a sad father and a yearning daughter, between a lonely man and a lost woman. The movie builds a rich and deeply felt web of relationships--when the story takes hold, you'll be all the more gripped as a result. Featuring a delightful comic turn by Stephen Rea (V for Vendetta) as a skeptical priest. --Bret Fetzer
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I'm surprised that this film wasn't a bigger commercial success given how much better done it is than the vast majority of movies that get made, but perhaps it lacked the kind of punch or predictability that is needed to appeal to the mass market. Or maybe it was the setting in Ireland and the difficulty people could have with the heavy accents (I always have the subtitles on so it wasn't an issue for me).
All in all, if you expect a simple corny love story, this will do just fine. I certainly enjoyed it.
Alison Barry deserved an award for saving this movie. I look forward to seeing more of her. Hope she does not grow into a sad Lindsey Lohan rewind.