Thursday, July 1, 2010

'Ondine:' real charm, a little bite

Neil Jordan has been a great director and a disappointing one. With movies such as The Crying Game and The Butcher Boy, Jordan established himself as one of cinema's more distinctive voices. But he's also made Hollywood movies that have fallen short of expectation, notably 1994's Interview With The Vampire and 2007's The Brave One. Ondine -- Jordan's latest -- falls somewhere in the middle of the the director's pack, but that doesn't mean it's not worth seeing. This time, Jordan tells the story of a fisherman (Colin Farrell) who fishes a woman (the Polish actress Alicja Bachleda) out of the sea. Sexy and mysterious, Bachleda gives the movie its charm, helping Jordan sustain a mystery about whether her character just might be a selkie, a mythical sea creature. There's more, of course: Farrell's Syracuse is a recovering alcoholic with a precocious daughter (Alison Barry) and an ex-wife (Derva Kirwan) who hasn't stopped drinking. Working from a script he wrote, Jordan more or less clears up the mystery about Ondine before the proceedings conclude. Farrell (down to Earth) and Backleda (more elusive) play off each other in engaging and credible fashion, and Ondine sets itself apart from more boisterous summer fare; it's a minor, yes, but downright agreeable.

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