Santa Cruz Good Times

Tuesday
Aug 19th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Catch Of The Day

film_ONDINE4Fairy tale, reality mesh in edgy, enchanting 'Ondine'
Irish filmmaker Neil Jordan has a masterful way with a fairy tale. His elegant The Company of Wolves, based on  the fractured fairy tales of Angela Carter, was his most overt take on the genre, with its storybook costumes and deep forest setting. But there's a whiff of candlelight and moonbeams, mythos and romance, in his best contemporary dramas as well, particularly those with an Irish setting like The Crying Game or Breakfast On Pluto.

Jordan turns to the myth-haunted seacoast of Ireland for his new film, Ondine, a beautifully-wrought, deeply seductive tale told with wry humor and heart. It's Jordan's riff on the popular legend of the lonely fisherman and his captive mer-bride. But while the title is taken from a 19th Century German version of the tale, Jordan throws out the old plot, reimagines the story with a beguiling modern edge, and makes it his own.

In the chilly waters of a tiny seacoast village in County Cork, a fisherman named Syracuse (Colin Farrell) plies his meager trade in an old rustbucket trawler. In a brisk, slightly delirious opening sequence, he hauls up his net one day to find a woman inside, apparently drowned (Alicja Bachleda). He starts to radio for help, but when he realizes she's still alive, he resuscitates her on the spot. She doesn't remember anything, including her name, but calls herself Ondine after the legend. She thinks she's dead, he thinks she might be an "asylum-seeker," and when she refuses to go to hospital or let anyone else see her, he stashes her in a secluded cottage that once belonged to his deceased mother, "a loner and a gypsy."

Syracuse, too, is something of an outcast. A recovering alcoholic (precariously sober for two-plus years), he's acrimoniously divorced and trying to get a grip on his life for the daughter he adores, Annie (the irresistible Alison Barry), who still lives with her hard-drinking Mam and her new Scottish boyfriend. Alison is in a wheelchair; her kidneys are failing and she spends hours every week on a dialysis machine. But she's smart, fearless, and spirited; when her Da tells her a "story" about a fisherman who pulls a woman from the sea, she does the research and tries to convince Syracuse that he's netted a Selkie, a seal woman who assumes human shape when her sealskin is buried—but one day must return the sea.

Her arguments are convincing. Ondine swims like the proverbial fish. On board Syracuse's trawler, she sings a haunting song in an unknown language, and lobsters and salmon pile into Syracuse's net. It's love at first sight when little Alison meets Ondine and helps her bury something mysterious plucked out of a kelp bed, while Ondine is drawn to good-heated, self-effacing Syracuse. But just as Alison warns that, in the folklore, the Selkie's seal husband will come looking for her, a sinister stranger shows up in town, lurking in the dockside shadows.

Jordan effortlessly creates tension in the juxtaposition of these  fantastical elements with gritty, day-to-day reality. Zipping around the village in her motorized chair, Alison could be in peril at any moment, from other taunting kids on bikes, to fast cars, to the vague hint of potential menace whenever she's at home alone with her current step-dad. But these moments are well-balanced by the droll repartee between Syracuse and the village priest (the marvelous Stephen Rea) in the confessional. The fisherman needs someone to unburden his secrets to who won't turn them into village gossip, and while the priest has given up ever expecting to see Syracuse in church ("You wouldn't be after saying a couple of 'Hail Marys' on the way out, would ye?" he sighs), the stoic sounding-board he provides makes him the closest thing to a best friend Syracuse has.

film_ondineFarrell, a capable, if sometimes maligned actor who can be as good as his material, gets the chance to be wonderful here. His Syracuse is soulful, romantic, funny, intensely fallible, and self-possessed in a way that only comes from facing up to one's demons. Bachleda (a Polish singer and actress) is perfectly cast as the exotic, yet unworldly-seeming Ondine. Poetic, and suspenseful, Ondine enchants.

ONDINE ★★★★

With Colin Farrell, Alicja Bachleda, Alison Barry, and Stephen Rea. Written and directed by Neil Jordan. A Magnolia release. Rated PG-13. 111 minutes. Watch film trailer >>>

Comments (1)Add Comment
Huh?
written by crtique, June 24, 2010
Nice film;

English titles would have been helpful as I couldn't understand about 75% of the regional
dialectsmilies/sad.gif

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

The Thought Form of Solution

It’s our last week of Leo before the sun enters Virgo (next Friday/Saturday). The planets this week make complex patterns and relationships (vibrational cadences and rhythms) with the outer planets, mainly Neptune—the planet that veils, obscures, protects and finally refines us. Neptune offers us entrance into a deeply spiritual sense of comfort and solace. Neptune is the personality ruler of Pisces (saviors of the world) and soul ruler of Cancer (world mother). “The fish goddesses who leapt from earth (Virgo) to water (Pisces) unitedly give birth to the Fish God (Christ, the Soul) who introduces the waters of life  (Neptune & Aquarius) into the ocean of substance (matter, mother bringing light to the world. Thus does Neptune work.” (Esoteric Astrology).

 

Final Cut

Cedar Street Video to close after 10 years at downtown location

 

Cultures Collide

No surprises, but lots to savor in foodie film ‘The Hundred-Foot Journey’

 

Say Uncle

Five types of kids, and how to be their best friend
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Foodie File: Kauboi

Japanese-Western themed unites sushi with whiskey and beefgrill

 

How should Santa Cruz develop downtown around the San Lorenzo River?

Santa Cruz | Artist/Show Promoter

 

Best of Santa Cruz County

The 2013 Santa Cruz County Readers' Poll and Critics’ Picks It’s our biggest issue of the year, and in it, your votes—more than 6,500 of them—determined the winners of The Best of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll. New to the long list of local restaurants, shops and other notables that captured your interest: Best Beer Selection, Best Locally Owned Business, Best Customer Service and Best Marijuana Dispensary. In the meantime, many readers were ever so chatty online about potential new categories. Some of the suggestions that stood out: Best Teen Program and Best Web Design/Designer. But what about: Dog Park, Church, Hotel, Local Farm, Therapist (I second that!) or Sports Bar—not to be confused with Bra. Our favorite suggestion: Best Act of Kindness—one reader noted Café Gratitude and the free meals it offered to the Santa Cruz Police Department in the aftermath of recent crimes. Perhaps some of these can be woven into next year’s ballot, so stay tuned. In the meantime, enjoy the following pages and take note of our Critics’ Picks, too, beginning on page 91. A big thanks for voting—and for reading—and an even bigger congratulations to all of the winners. Enjoy.  -Greg Archer, EditorBest of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll INDEX

 

Have Mercy!

Looking for a frisky summer wine at a reasonable price? Look no further than Mercy Vineyards’ 2013 Sauvignon Blanc ($20). Richly textured “with an exotic flavor profile,” the wine reveals aromas of honeydew melon and honeysuckle, with anise appearing as a star attraction. Smidgeons of pineapple and honeycomb add a touch of sexiness to this well-balanced, easy-drinking wine, which pairs well with a variety of cuisine —especially ceviche, calamari and other not-too-heavy foods.