Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Ondine (Rhoades)

“Ondine” Offers a Fascinating Fish Tale
Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

No, my favorite mermaid movie is not Disney’s “The Little Mermaid.” Nor is it the Tom Hanks comedy “Splash.” Top of my list is that quirky cult film “Local Hero.”

“Ondine” – the new Neil Jordan fantasy-drama film that’s playing at the Tropic Cinema – is kinda like “Local Hero” in reverse. There, you had a woman who might indeed be a mermaid. Here, you have a mermaid who might just be a woman.

Starring Colin Farrell and Alicja Bachlada, the chemistry between the two is obvious. In fact, she just had a baby by Farrell in real life.

In “Ondine” he’s an Irish fisherman who hauls up a net filled with … a woman. He takes her home to recover from her undersea adventure. Although she tries to keep out of sight, his wheelchair-bound daughter (Alison Barry) discovers that the story her dad has been telling about a mermaid might be true.

After a few trips to the library, the girl decides her father’s houseguest is a selkie, a mythological sea creature who sings to sailors. After all, she’s been heard singing to the fish, insuring a good catch.

Her mom is not impressed, having dumped her hubby years ago for his drunken ways. A town joke, his nickname is Circus. As in “clown.”

But Circus may have the last laugh as he stands up to a gangster who has trailed the mermaid to the fisherman’s village.

Neil Jordan, the director who gave us “The Crying Game” and “Interview with the Vampire,” wrote this screenplay with Colin Farrell in mind. Even so, you’ll wish the film had subtitles, in that Irishman Farrell’s thick native tongue is often difficult to decipher.

A few weeks ago, local cinephile Jean Carper screened “Ondine” for a handful of her friends. One guest, Dr. Roger Westerlund, told us that there is a medical condition known as Ondine’s Curse (congenital central hypoventilation syndrome), where the afflicted can quit breathing during sleep and die. Not to worry, I guarantee that this fascinating fish tale will not put you to sleep.

It’s now my second favorite mermaid film.
[from Solares Hill]

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