The film Ondine is a beautiful fairy tale as metaphor. An Irish fisherman, named Syracuse, captures a half-drowned woman in his nets and carries her home. She’s strange and mysterious and it’s uncertain whether she has mystical powers, or is simply captivating. She calls herself Ondine, after the mermaid. Syracuse’s daughter Annie takes this to heart, and decides she must be a selkie. Annie spins yarns about her folklorish heritage until Syracuse and Ondine nearly believe it themselves.
This movie’s storytelling is subtle, with music dampened as though played from underwater. The narrative rolls out like a lullaby. The story is unimportant, the movie is about waves lulling you to sleep like music. Sigur Ros scored the film, and their song All Alright was something of an inspiration for director Neil Jordan.
I sat through this movie wondering if it was really going to be a true fairy tale. I admit to being a little let down when “real life” returned to the narrative and we, as an audience, are given “facts.” I honestly think the story would have meant a little more if Syracuse had had to come to face the fact that Ondine is really a creature from the imagination come to life. Alas, they didn’t consult me. Still, the important parts are there. The dreamy mer-girl, the sad Irishman, the wee little ingenue. I’m a connoisseur of fairy tales. I’ve been obsessed ever since before I could read. I even went so far as write a book of my own. For those like myself, this movie will not disappoint.