Former Drunk Colin Farrell Has the Hots for a Mermaid Lady (in Ondine)
A bad drunk dried out into a luckless loner fisherman, Syracuse (Colin Farrell) lives for visits with Annie (Alison Barry), his wise-beyond-her-years crippled kid stuck in the custody of her still-boozing mom. One morning, Syracuse pulls up his net and finds a shivering woman—or is she a mermaid?—and soon his fishing fortunes change. While Annie hits the books looking for a mythical explanation, her dad falls in love with the mysterious creature, who calls herself Ondine (Alicja Bachleda). Writer/director Neil Jordan gradually builds up the possibility of fairy-tale magic in an identifiably real world, and then systematically knocks it down. This might have played as a welcome correction to today's brand of contemporary indie film, which pairs poverty and whimsy neatly, if Ondine didn't indulge in its own modern movie claptrap. Eccentric yet unwittingly carnal, prone to atonal gibberish, Ondine is a grade-A manic pixie dream girl, bringing a curmudgeonly outcast back to life with her kindness, tolerance, and perfect breasts. Ciphers aside, Ondine effectively sustains a mood of a hazy melancholy most affecting when nothing much is happening: Colin Farrell has the Best Enigmatic Stare in current cinema, and Christopher Doyle's gorgeous cinematography, all foggy blankets of blue and green, gives Syracuse's uncertainty a tangible texture. The spell is broken with the plot's final twist, which suggests that the film's core mystery wouldn't have been much of one had Syracuse been a fan of Icelandic ambient band Sigur Rós. Yes, seriously.
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