Thursday, 15 April 2010


2010. Dir: Neil Jordan. Starring: Colin Farrell, Alicja Bachleda, Dervla Kirwan, Stephen Rea and Alison Barry. ●●●●○

For those of you who read all of my reviews you will know that coming out of Leap Year I was considering giving up on cinema altogether. Luckily the next film I went to see was the dreamy and delightful Ondine.

In the film Colin Farrell's recovering Alcoholic fisherman, Syracuse, discovers the titular semi-naked lady (Alicja Bachleda) in his net. Her accent is indistinguishly foreign, she is nervous about meeting new people and she has no memory from before she was in the water. Naturally his daughter, played precociously but pitched perfectly by Alison Barry, starts to believe Ondine is a type of Mermaid.

From this deceptively simple premise builds a complex story where you, as the viewer, must choose whether you believe that Ondine really is a mermaid or whether there is something darker behind her mysterious appearance. As it's a fairy story at heart the various sidelines in the plot, which include Barry's kidney disease, chronic alcohol abuse and strangers in the village all fold into that main question.

Colin Farrell gives a superb performance here, as he always does when in loveable rogue territory, clearly portraying the pressures and conflicts he faces as a result of his latent addiction and the tough decisions that need to be made by a parent. As a result you completely believe everyone of his relationships with his family and community. Whilst Bachleda has less to work with, essentially playing a cypher, she retains the mystery throughout her performance, and her physicality is such that you just don't know the answer to that central enigma.

The rest of the supporting cast is fine, rather than good, although Stephen Rea's priest is a sardonic delight.

Neil Jordan is an assured hand directing this sort of adult fairytale and he fully takes us to a semi-fantastic alternative worldview. There were times I was so caught up with the action that I wanted to shout at the screen - always a good sign - especially when Farrell slips off the wagon.

I would also like to heartily recommend the cinematography, not that Christopher Doyle (Rabbit-Proof Fence, Paranoid Park) needs my praise, but it's truly invaluable to maintaining the mood. As was Kjartan Sveinsson's original music.

Overall this was a beautiful mood piece, only let down by the slightness of the tale and perhaps a inconsistency of tone (it's for young adults, not children).


Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

Yay. So glad you liked it, it's one of the film's I'm anticipating very much this year and so glad to see Colin getting some good reviews.

Runs Like A Gay said...

It's a very sweet film, and I'm really hoping it will be Colin's year this year.