Ondine – a gentle Irish comedy



Star – Colin Farrell

Romantic Comedy

Irish Film

1Hr 51 minutes

PG 13

Award – 6 wins

IMBD – 6.8

I like Colin Farrell. Ever since Tigerland I have kept an eye out for his movies. I loved In Bruges but fair to say his career has tailed off some, The Lobster (2015) one of the worse films I have ever seen. The Killing of Sacred Deer is a recent film of his I want to see and supposed to be good so maybe that gets him back on top. They said that about The Lobster though. This comedy is from 2008, around his peak career, so thought I would buy it from Amazon Marketplace and hope for the best.

Ondine is quirky romantic fairytale from director Neil Jordan, he who exploded onto the scene with films like Mona Lisa and The Crying Game and has cracked on very nicely ever since, The End of the Affair one of my favourites. This one is not one of those political staunch lefty Irishman films from Jordan about The Troubles and a director who does actually do areal mix of good work from around the world. Interview with the Vampire is one of his. Ondine is very much in the idle ground of his cannon.


Colin Farrell as Syracuse “Circus”[4]

Alicia Bachleda as Ondine[4] (real name Joanna, she later reveals in the movie)

Alison Barry as Annie[4]

Dervla Kirwan as Maura[4]

Tony Curran as Alex[4]

Stephen Rea as Priest[4]

Emil Hostina as Vladic[4]

Dashiel Jordan as Kid on Bike[4] (son of the director Neil Jordan)

—The plot—

Syracuse (Farrell), a half sharp fisherman, trawls the Irish Sea off the coast of the beautiful and rustic Irish seaside town of Castletownbere where he lives alone, estranged from his young daughter Annie (Alison Barry) and ex partner Maura (Dervla Kirwan). Annie is waiting for a transplant and confined to a wheelchair. The two are very close and Annie always probing dad for secrets of the sea.

Out fishing he has a very strange day, pulling up a net to find a young beautiful woman (Alicia Bachleda) in it, struggling for breath. She insists he does not call the cops or medical help and asks for him to hide her down below from people and avoid the harbour.  She calls herself Ondine and Syracuse decides to hide her at his grandma’s old home in a secluded cove.#



The next day he takes her out on the boat, where she sings like an angel to relax, that brings the boat good luck, filling the nets with fish, his best cash crop for ages. It’s not long before he falls for her, and she for him, putting two and two together and making five that she could be a selkie (a mermaid), and all the myths that go with that.



Little Annie is suspicious of dad and follows him to the cottage in the cove, where she meets the beautiful lady. The secret is out the three become close, Annie believing that dad’s new friend was meant to be and more to it than chance. She also believes the lady maybe a selkie. The family needs some luck and this maybe it. But when a strange Eastern European man arrives in town (Emil Hostina) looking for her it may sledgehammer all of their dreams…

-Any good-

It was pleasant but not a classic. Farrell is as charming as ever and rocks a serious mullet. Polish actress Alicia Bachleda is easy on the eye and worth a watch just for her. She is stunning. I would say it lacks that true Irish charm you would expect from the Irish films industry and very much thick as bricks culchie Ireland here.

For its £12 million budget it tanked at £2 million gross and poorly advertised by the looks back in the day as it’s not as bad as those numbers. The selkie thing works and you go with it thinking it’s either a fairytale or a straightforward cute Irish romance, until the twist of fete is delivered to wrap the film up with a neat bow. Nothing wrong with that though, in context.

It’s funny and atmospheric and very much a modern fable, well written and paced. It’s not a typical Neil Jordan film and his type of intelligent comedy and so don’t expect anything like his big Irish hits. But if you like his laconic style then you will enjoy this and very much a decent film buried in the many on Now TV and the like as the day of combing Blockbusters to pick a movie have long since gone. The movie industry chooses for you know.

Trailer –

What do you think?

4 points

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