Monday, 25 April 2011


Billed as whimsical film, I thought that Neil Jordan’s, Ondine set in a small Irish fishing village was to develop with elements of the Troubles. The revealed aspect is in fact middle/east European Drug running. Colin Farrell whose performance I enjoyed so much in In Bruges plays a single handed fisherman divorced from his wife, he a reformed alcoholic with his ex wife played by the wonderful Dervia Kirwan in Ballykissangel and then the 1940’s wife in Goodnight Sweetheart. Here she plays a boozy wife with a boozy traditional male new partner who rely on Colin to play his part in caring for their young daughter who has a bad liver (the irony of this will be overlooked by some) and requires regular dialysis and medical checks.

Colin is having a lean time in his fishing until he nets a barely alive young woman who wants to be kept out of sight of everyone and who refuses to disclose her origins, go to hospital or see a doctor. He takes her to live in the isolated cottage previously the home of his mother and which has a sea mooring for his boat. His catches improve and he tells his daughter about the arrival of the woman from the sea in the form of a story she requests during a dialysis session. She is allocated an electric wheel chair which she quickly learns to use and visits the home of her grandmother to find out about the sea maiden whom she is bright enough to work out is a real person.

The sea maiden and daughter become good friends and while being taught to swim they discover and then bury something covered in sea weed which the maiden brings from the sea bed. With aspects of Ballykissangel featuring in the film Colin goes to confession for the first time in decades to talk to someone about the situation he finds himself in. We the audience are made aware that the couple are under scrutiny from strangers. Local teenagers take the chair away from the daughter and put it in the water damaging the mechanisms which the step father attempts to repair, but later the brakes fail and the daughter falls into the sea during the local festival and is rescued by the sea maiden. She recovers and Colin and the sea maiden become lovers.

Colin tells the Priest that he is afraid that something very good or very bad is going to happen and he priest says that coping with success, happiness, is in fact just as difficult if not more difficult than coping with failure. The slow paced lyrical tale then has a dramatic change of pace. Colin takes his daughter to her home only find that she is locked out and has to take her down to a pub on the sea front and in a drunk state the wife attempts to drive home and their vehicle is in a major collision in which the step father is killed with his kidney being a match for the step daughter who survived and with her mother now left in a wheel chair. She asks Colin to have the full time care and on returning home one day he finds the sea maiden and his daughter prisoners of two middle/eastern European men and we learn the story behind the story. The sea maiden was the partner one of the two men in a drug run in which their boat is surrounded by custom’s craft. The girl swims underwater with the drugs so there is nothing for customs to hold the vessel and the man in charge. The sea maiden takes them to where the drugs found on the sea bed have been buried in garden but they are not there. The daughter has removed and hidden them in one of lobster pots hung of the side of the boat under water. She did this in order to prevent the maiden going off. At this point the authorities arrive and the maiden is taken into custody. One of the men has been killed and the other captured. We learn from a subsequent discussion between Colin and the Priest that when the girl is released from custody she will be deported unless she can become a citizen by marriage. They marry and live happy ever after.

It could have all worked out different. Colin at one point goes off the wagon after being pushed into taking a drink with his ex wife. For some reason which I am still not sure, Colin takes the sea maiden and leaves her on a light house rock but returns to find that she has swam across to a rock outfall used by sea lions. After being told the story of sea maiden in the net the daughter had gone to the local library for books about mermaids and sea creatures. She had decided that Ondine (of the sea) was a selkie, a seal lady creature of Celtic mythology who may temporarily become human by removing her seal coat, but must later return to sea. It was enjoyable lunchtime Bank Holiday Monday fare.

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