Cinema Review – JDIFF 2010: Ondine

Ondine is the latest film from Neil Jordan. The film stars Colin Farrell as Syracuse – a fisherman from rural Ireland whose life is changed when he catches a woman in his nets. Literally. Syracuse’s daughter, Annie, from a previous relationship is convinced that the woman, Ondine, is a Selkie – a seal person – and when mysterious, wonderful and strange things start happening to Syracuse, he starts to believe it too.

It is easy to forget how great an actor Colin Farrell is. His career and personal life got mixed up a few years ago, and then he made the choice to star in some abysmal movies. Farrell’s appearance in TV show Scrubs was a short jog to the memory, then the wonderful In Bruges really reminded us of how great he is. Farrell is truly on form here in the story of Ondine. Sometimes it is hard to watch a movie starring a true star and forget who the person underneath the character is. Colin Farrell allows us to forget him in his portrayal of Syracuse. Yes, the film is the Colin Farrell show, but he doesn’t primp or play up the camera. Alison Barry is great as Syracuse’s precocious daughter Annie and of course all eyes are on Alicja Bachleda-Curus as the fascinating Ondine.

The story is charming overall, the relationship between Syracuse and the women in his life is gentle and tender until he turns to drink and the audience is shown why his relationship wit Annie’s mother failed. The story ambles along at a slowish pace until about 20 minutes before the end where the pace suddenly and joltingly picks up. So quickly in fact that the audience was left wondering what was going on for several moments.

I found the ending of the film, and it’s resolution disappointing, Neil Jordan is no stranger to the fantastical and could easily have allowed the story to reach a less jarring conclusion. Sure, it’s the happy ending we all wanted, but it doesn’t quite happen in the way the audience would have liked.

Overall, the film is charming and well told, and is definitely worth a watch, even if it seems that Neil Jordan shied away from an ending that could have made the film truly magical.

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