Ondine

Pratt's Falls New York

photo by ashley christiano

Dive in to Ondine , a dark but sweet movie starring Colin Farrel and Alicja Bachleda.The deep characters, stunning scenery, and raw emotions in the movie draw you back to shore.

Sometimes living in a fairy tale is easier than living in the real world. Syracuse, a fisherman in a tiny town on the Irish coast has been out of luck for years. Until he drags a half-drowned women out of the water and breathes life back into her lungs. The woman has no memory of her former life. She refuses medical assistance, so Syracuse brings her home and keeps her hidden at her request. But he can’t keep this incredible story from his daughter, Annie. She listens to his tale with the open ears of a dying child, grasping hold of the fantasy her father has created. “She’s a selkie,” Annie declares. Unsure what to believe, Syracuse takes this to heart.

So he dives into the fairy tale, full of fear, but also full of hope. The woman, who asks to be called Ondine (which means woman of the sea), sings the fish right into his nets. She brings him luck, brings the light back into Annie’s eyes. She’s a walking legend. Or is she?

Syracuse (Colin Farrel) is a recovering alcoholic, and has been for 2 years, 7 months, and 18 days. Formerly called Circus the Clown by everybody from his ex-wife to the local priest, he’s trying to get back on his feet. Trying to be a good father. He confesses his sins to a priest, but asks for no absolution. Ondine’s arrival in his life gave him hope, but it’s also filled him with fear: “None of this makes sense. That’s why I’m afraid. I know something’s going to happen. Something wonderful, or terrible.”

Annie’s (Alison Barry) kidney’s are failing. She’s tired, but precocious and defiantly hopeful. The mystery of Ondine brightens that hope, allowing her imagination to run wild. But even the most optimistic person sometimes wears down. She tells her father “I have too much time on my own, my blood going from here to there. I try to imagine a happy ending. It’s hard. Sometimes it’s hard.”

Ondine (Alicja Bachleda) wants to believe in Annie’s selkie legend just as much as the little girl does. She throws herself into the story, afraid of her past life, hoping to forget and move on. Live happily ever after. The romantic fantasy of the selkie hides the scars of her past life. But life doesn’t work that way. Her past comes back, and in a violent way.

The movie, directed by Neil Jordan, was filmed on the Beara Peninsula in Ireland. The vibrant greens of the Emerald Isle and the murky, wavy depths of the ocean complement the hopeful but dark movie. Abandoned boats, rocky islands, and a cabin on the sea give the movie a beautiful but lonely tone.

The plot is simple, with no twists and few surprises. The viewer instead joins the characters in hoping for a happy ending, wishing the fairy tale was true. The movie’s tagline sums up the point of the movie: “The truth is not what you know. It’s what you believe.”

Annie, Syracuse, Ondine and the viewers struggle with the clash of reality and fantasy. This Irish fantasy-romance is a great movie for a dreary day.

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