Review: Ondine (TIFF)
Plot: An Irish fisherman named Syraceuse (Colin Farrell), rescues a beautiful woman he finds drifting in the sea. The woman, who calls herself Ondine (Alicja Bachleda), appears to be suffering from amnesia, and the two soon fall deeply in love. Meanwhile, Syraceuses sickly young daughter begins to suspect that Ondine may be a mermaid-like sea nymph.
Review: ONDINE was one of the real gems I discovered at the Toronto International Film Festival this year. While my plot synopsis probably makes it sound a little too whimsical, or SPLASH TOO-ish, for most tastes- rest assured, ONDINE is a seriously charming film. It also happens to feature an incredible performance from Colin Farrell- following his similarly brilliant turn in one of my favorite films from last year, IN BRUGES.
Farrells one of those guys that gets a bad wrap- probably due to the massive amount of over-exposure he received a few years ago, circa-SWAT, when everyone thought he was going to be the next big thing. The whole movie-star thing didnt really pan out, but he wisely chose to work with quality directors like Michael Mann, Terrence Malick, Woody Allen, Martin McDonagh, and now Neil Jordan, and as a result, hes truly become one of the best actors of his generation.
ONDINE is another triumph, with him getting a hell of a role with Syraceuse, a recovering alcoholic, trying desperately to do right by his young, sickly daughter, while simultaneously trying to prove himself to the people in his community, who cant help but see him as the village drunkard that he used to be.
Lucky for him, his luck begins to change the moment he fishes Ondine out of the sea, with him finding true love for the first time in his life, with the stunning, mysterious beauty.. Farrells chemistry with co-star Alicja Bachleda is palpable (indeed- the two are now an item in real life as well), and their romance- while it has some mild fantasy overtones, never comes across as schmaltzy or predictable.
Truly, ONDINE is a wonderful film and Neil Jordans best film since THE CRYING GAME. Its a nice, smaller scale comeback for Jordan, who went Hollywood in a big way, with his last film, the Jodie Foster vehicle, THE BRAVE ONE (which I actually thought was pretty solid- although it wasnt generally well received). Other than the great performance from Farrell, the film also features sumptuous photography from DP Christopher Doyle- famous from his work with Wong Kar Wai. The film is gorgeous to look at, with each frame of the film perfectly composed on a visual level. ONDINE also has a beautiful score by Sigur Ros keyboardist, Kjartan Sveinsson (one of their songs also features prominently in the plot).
My only issue with ONDINE is that the last twenty minutes are a wee bit conventional, although I can understand why Jordan might have felt compelled to do away with the fantasy elements, and end the film on a realistic note. It didnt really diminish my feelings about the film- and I hope people get a chance to see it soon.
Other reviews from TIFF: MEN WHO STARE AT GOATS - UP IN THE AIR - JENNIFER'S BODY - THE INVENTION OF LYING - DAYBREAKERS - YOUTH IN REVOLT - THE BOYS ARE BACK - THE ROAD - THE INFORMANT!- BAD LIEUTENANT: PORT OF CALL NEW ORLEANS - A SERIOUS MAN- LEAVES OF GRASS- SOLITARY MAN- THE IMAGINARIUM OF DR. PARNASSUS - MICMACS - WHIP IT - ONG BAK 2 - [REC] 2 - SOLOMON KANE