Movie Review: Ondine

The wife and I watched Ondine last night on Netflix.  It’s a curious little movie that doesn’t really deliver a lot but takes place in some really gorgeous scenery.

The film is rated PG-13.  There are one – perhaps two – instances of profanity in addition to implied nudity, implied sex, and a lot of shots of the film’s female lead in her underwear.  The film seems to be a study in expectations.  How much does what we want to see shape what we really see?  It could be another argument for metaphysical idealism, or the idea that there isn’t really anything beyond what we project with our minds/wills/whatever.  But it swerves away from that – somewhat.  
Ondine (Alicja Bachleda)  is a young woman hauled out of the ocean in the fishing net of Syracuse (Colin Farrell).  She doesn’t seem to have much memory, but is attractive enough that Syracuse is willing to overlook this and let her hide out at his deceased mother’s home.  She sings nice, looks good, and seems to bring him luck.  His daughter is convinced that Ondine is a type of mermaid with semi-magical powers.  Who is she?  Why doesn’t she want to be seen?  Who is the mysterious dark-haired man in the second half of the film?
It’s not a great movie, but it’s pretty to watch (I meant the Irish scenery, though Bachleda’s not exactly going to injure anyone’s eyes), and it answers – if not terribly satisfyingly – the basic plot questions in the last paragraph.  Not so much for the more metaphysical questions it tantalizes us with.  The conclusion of the film doesn’t really deal well with the rest of the movie’s exposition.  How much of what we experience is under our control?  Are we able to make things happen simply by wishing it to be true?  And if wishes can’t truly alter reality, can they alter certain aspects of it?  Or assemble enough coincidences to appear to alter it?   This film doesn’t answer any of those questions, which is a shame.  
The characters in the film are all very two-dimensional.  The tragic Syracuse (whose name is the continual prompt for the mocking moniker of  ‘Circus’) – the lonely good man.  The mysterious and beautiful Ondine who seems ill-at ease in Syracuse’s world one moment, and all too familiar with it the next.  Syracuse’s seriously ill daughter Annie, insightful beyond her years.  The hard drinking ex-wife and her good-for-very-little beau.  There are few surprises here, few twists, few attempts to really allow us to see these characters and watch their growth.  There isn’t any growth to see, frankly.  
It’s not a bad movie in that I didn’t feel as though I’d just wasted two hours of my life in watching it, but it’s the kind of movie you’re likely to forget relatively soon after watching it, all the while thinking that it ought to have been more memorable.  

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