A bad drunk dried out into a luckless loner fisherman, Syracuse (Colin Farrell) lives for visits with Annie (Alison Barry), his wise-beyond-her-years disabled kid stuck in the custody of her still-boozing mom. One morning, Syracuse pulls up his net and finds a shivering woman — or is she a mermaid? — and soon his fishing fortunes change. While Annie hits the books looking for a mythical explanation, her dad falls in love with the mysterious creature, who calls herself Ondine (Alicja Bachleda). Eccentric yet unwittingly carnal, prone to atonal gibberish, Ondine is a manic, pixie dream girl, bringing a curmudgeonly outcast back to life with her kindness, tolerance and perfect breasts. While writer-director Neil Jordan gradually builds up the possibility of fairy-tale magic in an identifiably real world, he systematically knocks it down. Ondine effectively sustains a mood of a hazy melancholy most affecting when nothing much is happening. Christopher Doyle’s gorgeous cinematography, all foggy blankets of blue and green, gives Syracuse’s uncertainty a tangible texture. The spell is broken with the plot’s final twist, which suggests that the film’s core mystery wouldn’t have been much of one had Syracuse been a fan of Icelandic ambient band Sigur Rós. Yes, seriously.

Categories: Movies