ONDINE

6 out of 10 Ireland

Release Date: 5th March 2010

Director: Neil Jordan (Byzantium The Borgias (TV) / The Brave One / Breakfast On Pluto / The Good Thief / The End Of The Affair / In Dreams / The Butcher’s Boy / Michael Collins / Interview With The Vampire / The Crying Game / The Miracle / We’re No Angels / High Spirits / Mona Lisa / The Company Of Wolves / Angel (1982))

Cast: Colin Farrell, Alicja Bachleda, Alison Barry, Dervla Kirwan, Emil Hostina with Tony Curran and Stephen Rea

Writer: Neil Jordan

Trailer: ONDINE

Review by Joe Pesci II aka Matt Usher below!

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

  • Colin Farrell: Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, The Lobster, Solace, Miss Julie (2015), True Detective (TV), A Winter’s Tale, Saving Mr Banks, Dead Man Down, Seven Psychopaths, Total Recall (2012), London Boulevard, Fright Night (2011), Horrible Bosses, The Way Back, The Imaginarium Of Dr Parnassus, In Bruges,  Crazy Heart, Cassandra’s Dream, Miami Vice Movie, The New World, Intermission, Alexander, S.W.A.T., Veronica Guerin, Phone Booth, Daredevil, Minority Report, The Recruit, Hart’s War, Tigerland, The War Zone
  • Alicja Bachleda: Trade
  • Dervla Kirwan: Entity, Dangerous Parking, With Or Without You, Ballykissangel (TV)
  • Emil Hostina: The Fall
  • Tony Curran: Awaiting, Marvellous, Thor 2, In The Dark Half, X-Men – First Class, Tintin (voice), The Veteran, Underworld 2, The Good German, Red Road, Blade 2, The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Captives, This Life (TV)
  • Stephen Rea: Roadkill (2015), Out of The Dark, Asylum (2013), Underworld 4, Blackthorn, The Heavy, Stuck, The Reaping, Sixty Six, V For Vendetta, Tara Road, River Queen, Breakfast On Pluto, The Good Shepherd, Evelyn, Feardotcom, The Musketeer, The End of the Affair, In Dreams, Still Crazy, This Is My Father, The Butcher Boy, Fever Pitch, The Last of the High Kings, Trojan Eddie, A Further Gesture, Michael Collins, All Men Are Mortal, Pret a Porter, Interview With The Vampire, Princess Caraboo, Bad Behaviour, The Crying Game, Life Is Sweet, The Doctor and the Devils, Angel
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One thought on “ONDINE

  1. ONDINE – review by Matt Usher aka Joe Pesci II

    When I was younger Neil Jordan seemed to be really important. Every time a Neil Jordan film came out it seemed to be an event of immense national significance. Even when they just turned up on TV the announcer would say in hushed tones ‘and now on Channel 4 a very important Neil Jordan film. We present The Company of Wolves…’ Neil Jordan seemed to be held in some sort of high regard like he was some sort of great intellectual who had somehow infiltrated Hollywood and was doing Important Things there. And so I was happy to believe in the great Jordan. There was only one problem. I didn’t like his movies. None of them. Not the Hollywood ones, not the quirky ones and especially not the IRA-loving Irish ones. And then one day he just seemed to disappear (round about the time of the ludicrous IN DREAMS I suppose). All of which is a long-winded way of saying that I wasn’t really looking forward to ONDINE. Particularly as it stars Colin Farrell, a perfectly good actor I’m sure, but one that I just don’t get.

    Having watched ONDINE I found myself wondering ‘who is this for? Why was this made?’ I often find myself saying this, but usually it means that I am wailing and railing against some hopeless tat which should never have been let out of the mind of some juvenile thirtysomething bloke who should know better by now. But it’s different with ONDINE. I find myself asking ‘who is this for? Why was this made?’ not because it is a lamentably awful film (like BASEMENT) but because it’s rather good. But I can’t think that many people would pay to see it, and consequently I don’t quite know how it got made. Now, let’s not get ahead of ourselves: it’s not a great film, it’s not even one of those neglected gems, but it is nice, unassuming, unambitious, entertaining and likeable.

    Colin Farrell is our star (I guess it’s ‘a personal project’ for him, and it gets him away from all that ersatz Hollywood glitz which is no doubt choking him). He plays a long-haired fisherman known for his bad luck (especially at the whole fishing lark), an alcoholic ex (Dervla Kirwan underused) and a daughter in a rather good electric wheelchair. One day Farrell is out on his boat fishing when he finds something in his net which isn’t a fish (I particularly liked that this all happened in the opening minutes of the film – none of that setting up characters malarkey). As the title ONDINE may have hinted, there’s a mermaid involved. Imagine my disappointment then on finding out that the net contains a woman (i.e. with legs) and not a mermaid (i.e. with fins). However, our hero is a bit thick and the girl (Alicja Bachleda) has caught amnesia in the sea, so they agree that she might well be some sort of amphibious human/fish hybrid. And what do you know, the moment he finds her, Farrell’s luck changes, and he starts catching fish again. The film treads a fine line between whimsy, myth, fairy tale and reality, and for the most part succeeds, avoiding sentimentality, but also avoiding anything too raw either.

    ONDINE unfolds in a leisurely (but not slow) and likeable way (though our hero’s daughter is from the irritatingly smug and wise breed of child actors / characters); there aren’t many surprises, and it’s not startlingly original. But ONDINE features nice turns from the leads, doesn’t outstay its welcome and Ireland has rarely looked so nice. The mystery has a conclusion which (bizarrely) is simultaneously stupid, far-fetched, logical, satisfying and obvious. I still don’t get Colin Farrell but he’s agreeably laid back without being annoying and he doesn’t overdo the charming Irish thing either (that’s the nearest I can get to praising him at the moment; if someone can tell me a film he’s really good in I will happily take a look and eat my words). None of the rest of the cast have to do much: Kirwan glowers from time to time, and Bachleda is suitably enigmatic, whilst Tony Curran turns up as little more than a plot device. But who’s this turning up in the confessional to move the film up a gear? It’s long-time Jordan muse Stephen Rea! Usually another of those actors (like Farrell and also Michael Fassbender) who I just don’t get, Rea helps move the film up a notch, aided by some script which I’d swear had been rewritten. The scenes between Rea and the non-confessing Farrell are the best in the film. Now priests of course aren’t meant to do much in the way of sinning, but here we witness Rea give a classic example of turning up in a film, putting it in his pocket and walking away with it, in full view. I haven’t seen such effective scene-stealing since Frank Finlay played Haydn in a TV film about Beethoven.

    So ONDINE is a good example of that almost forgotten genre – the likeable film; one that will happily while away a couple of Sunday evening hours leaving you reasonably contented with a ‘that was a good film’ sort of feeling. And indeed it is. It’s not a life-changing work of inspirationally heartbreaking genius, but it’s not meant to be. It’s that undervalued and rare thing: a simple story, well told.

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