Colin Farrell stars in Neil Jordan film
With Ondine, Irish
writer-director Neil Jordan (The CryingGame) weaves a fairy tale from the
Celtic twilight into the dim shadow-lands of now. The melancholy fisherman, Syracuse (sad-eyed Colin Farrell at his best), and his
imaginative little girl, Annie (a marvelously unaffected performance by Alison
Barry), come to believe that the woman, Ondine (Alicja Bachleda), is a
selkie—the mermaid-like seal women that fisherfolk once spotted swimming among
the misty inlets of Ireland.
Syracuse’s catch is mysterious
indeed, as she speaks English with a faraway accent and knows little about the
society in which she finds herself. When Ondine sings her bewitching song, she
seems to draw fish to Syracuse’s
nets while gently stroking the strings of his heart. The unhappy man wonders
what wondrous and terrible forces are stirring. Could Ondine be running from
someone or something? And what will the villagers, especially his unhappy
alcoholic ex-wife, think about the strange, beautiful woman living in his old
cottage? With no one to talk to, he offers his story as a confession to the
weary, grumbling parish priest.
Maintaining a low key even through the head-butting violence at the climax, director Jordan manages to pass easily between magic and realism, transforming a mossy, decaying corner of our contemporary world into a metaphorical fairy tale.