Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Ondine is an Irish film written and directed by the Irish filmmaker Neil Jordan who made, among other things, “Interview with the vampire”. The most important character in the film is played by Colin Farell.

The story takes place in Ireland. One day, a recovering-alcoholic fisherman named Syracuse brings up a woman in his net. She doesn’t say much about herself, besides that her name is Ondine, meaning “of the sea”. She doesn’t want to be seen by anyone and Syracuse lets her live in the house of his dead mother. And surprisingly, every time she sings aboard his boat, she brings luck in his fishing. Syracuse’s daughter, Annie, concludes that Ondine must be a Selkie, a seal creature. According to the Celtic myth, a Selkie can become human during 7 years if she removes her seal coat, and can then return to the sea by putting it back on. Annie thinks Ondine is coming to live on the earth with her father and that she can use her Selkie’s wish to cure her kidney failure. Syracuse eventually falls in love with the girl, but is wary of this sudden luck. And he is right, because a mysterious man arrives in the village and he is looking for the woman. It soon becomes clear that Ondine is not really a lucky charm coming from the sea… As Syracuse gets more and more doubtful about the mythical streak in her, Ondine ends up telling him the truth: her real name is Joanna and she comes from Romania. Before she was pulled up in Syracuse’s fishing net, she was on a boat smuggling drugs with the man who is now looking for her. They were going to be caught by the police, so she jumped out of the boat with the drug. She swam as long as she could, but exhausted, she almost drowned. Almost, because she was saved by Syracuse. At the end, the man coming to get the drug back is caught by the police, as well as Joanna. She spends a while in prison and when she comes out, Syracuse decides to marry her so that she becomes Irish and can stay in Ireland with him and Annie.

I appreciated this film, because its theme is quite uncommon. In fact, all begins like a fairy-tale: a fisherman meets a kind of mermaid and they fall in love. The story takes then a more realistic turn and becomes nearly a thriller. The rhythm changes completely and this reversal finally tells us the truth about Ondine, because since the beginning we have been kept in suspense: we don’t really know if she is a creature of the sea or a simple human…
Then, it was also the occasion to contemplate some beautiful and wild Irish landscapes. In fact, the film was shoot in Cork, on the Beara Peninsula, a mountainous region known for its many fishing ports.
And finally, the story has also its moments of emotion with Annie who has to cope with her disease and its touch of humour with the priest who is good at repartee.

Amélie Bulon

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