Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Ondine, dir/wr. Neil Jordan, st. Colin Farrell, Alicja Bachleda-Curus, Stephen Rea, Dervla Kirwan

What do you do when an impossibly beautiful sea-nymph gatecrashes your fishing trip and starts singing Sigur Rós at you? From this implausibly over-fanciful opening Neil Jordan manages to weave something of an effective and absorbing tale, taking in along the way nods to fantastical Gallic myth and the dreary humdrum normalcy of rural Ireland. Colin Farrell plays Syracuse (an awkward nod to the film's mythological allusions, but one that nonetheless sustains the illusory tone), a quiet, no-nonsense fisherman with a lush of an ex-wife (Kirwan) and a disabled daughter (Alison Barry, quite quite brilliant). As in all good fairytales, it is simple chance that crosses his honest existence with that of Ondine's; but is she genuinely a creature of water, or something else? Cinematographer Christopher Doyle bathes the film in chilly coastal greys and slate blues, nimbly sidestepping travelogue blandness, and similarly, Kjartan Sveinsson's acousto-ambient score plucks and swells in harmony with the rolling waves and biting winds; it reminded me of Julio Medem's Lucía y el Sexo, another film where the meteorological sense of location whips off the screen and billows around the room you're in. If there's a bitterness to reality crashing in at the eleventh hour and upsetting the reverie, it is but a small bother to an otherwise tremendously beguiling film.