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MOVIE REVIEW: Ondine

Has Colin Farrell caught a mermaid?

Ondine: Rates a C.
Courtesy photo

Colin Farrell really got his act together. Here’s a guy that had been doing drugs, partying, sex tapes, an illegitimate kid…and all of the sudden he cleaned up, got his act together and more importantly – gave us good performances in good films. And isn’t that really all we care about?

I loved him In Bruges, Crazy Heart, Cassandra’s Dream (which was really the same character as In Bruges, by why quibble).

Here he plays an alcoholic fisherman, down on his luck, who has the catch of a lifetime – a sexy mermaid-type creature in his nets.

Neil Jordan, the writer/director of Ondine, first got attention after The Crying Game. A few years later he director Interview with a Vampire. He did four movies after that, none of which I saw. I caught The Good Thief and thought it was stylish, and Nick Nolte was good; but something was missing. And something is missing with Ondine. The movie won’t float everyones boat, but I enjoyed the ride.

The low-key elements of this love story is light-weight but quite charming. I’m guessing when it’s all said and done, the film won’t make a big splash (pun intended). I’m guessing it won’t even make anywhere near a million bucks at the box office. And that’s a shame.

The islands of Cork, Ireland, are filmed beautifully. I never mention cinematographers but Christopher Doyle does such an outstanding job. Not just wish the lush mountains and water, but even the dingy dive bar at the docks where everyone goes to get blitzed.

Polish actress and singer Alicja Bachleda does a nice job, and I found out she’s the real-life love interest of Farrell.

In Ondine, her character doesn’t want to be seen by people, and that’s where my movie pet peeve #3 arises. The protagonist that has an empty house (usually belonging to their deceased mother) that they never sold, and can be conveniently used for the new character that pops up.

The performance of 11-year-old Alison Barry is okay, but it falls under my pet peeves at #39 – kids in movies that are supposed to be intelligent and cute, but just come off as precocious. Some of her scenes in the wheelchair are touching, but others don’t work.

That would include Barry making a secret pact with Bachleda, to not reveal her identity to anyone. Yet she spends the rest of the movie trying to prove the woman really does live in the ocean.

Stephen Rea, a regular in Jordan films, has the role that we’ve now seen in so many films – the priest that listens to the craziest of stories from the protagonist. I do like the fact that they don’t go over-the-top with these scenes or try to be too funny.

I did find it hard at times, to understand the thick-brogued accents. Another thing I didn’t understand was the step-father to the girl, played by Tony Curran. There were at least three scenes where it appeared he was on the verge of doing something inappropriate with her, but didn’t. I asked a friend with me if I was accurate in thinking that, and he agreed that something was fishy (no pun intended). Yet, I went and looked at 60 different reviews for this movie to see if any other critic mentioned it. Usually his character wasn’t even mentioned, and the few times it was, he was written about in a positive light. Only Time Magazine touches on it, saying he was a “vaguely threatening lout.” I agree, but think you can’t write that without talking about the positive things he does for the girl (which is surprising, since he’s really just a drinking buddy for the mom). He fixes her wheelchair, inquires as to what she’s reading, and more.

The third act is sloppy and you end up finding a few things far-fetched (which is surprising, since you’ve already bought into the woman from the sea love fairytale). The whole thing is slow-paced, yet I was never bored.

I loved that the siren song we heard actually turns out to be Sigur Ros.

I’m giving the movie a C, and that reminds me of the best clean joke ever.

Why do mermaids wear seashells over their breasts?

Because B-shells are too small, and D-shells are too big.

(I’m here all week, folks. Stay away from the clams.)