Ondine is the story of an Irish fisherman named Syracuse,
played by Colin Farrell. When we meet Syracuse he is at the end of his
tether: a recovering alcoholic, he is
divorced, his child is seriously ill, and his fishing business isn’t doing
well. Is it any wonder that when he hauls up a beautiful young women in his fishing
net that he wonders if something very out
of the ordinary, perhaps supernatural, is going on? His daughter thinks the
woman, named Ondine, is a selkie. In Irish mythology, a selkie is a seal that
becomes human by taking off its seal skin. It can return to seal form by
putting it back on. A selkie can fall in love, but will always yearn to return
to the sea. “Neither chains of steel nor chains of love can keep her from the sea.”
In some ways, Ondine is about the power of hope. Our lives
can be humdrum and workaday and we look for signs from the universe that there
is something more. Syracuse thinks–hopes, dreams, yearns for–that Ondine really is a selkie. But is she? And,
for that matter, what’s so wonderful about hope? If our hopes have ever been dashed,
we may experience hope as a painful thing, and guard against it with cynicism.
And perhaps the real world is magical enough as it is.
What with a twist or two in the plot, the lush, green beauty
of the Irish countryside, and Colin Farrell’s magnificent eyebrows, this is a
thoroughly enjoyable movie.
If you enjoy Ondine, you might also enjoy The Secret of
Roan Inish (J DVD SEC), about a little girl living with her grandparents in a
small Irish fishing village. Her family believes that her younger brother was swept away
in his infancy and raised by a selkie on the “Island of the Seals” (Roan Inish),
and the little girl seeks to find the truth. Also set on the wild Irish coast, The
Secret of Roan Inish is considered a children’s movie, but its lyric beauty can be enjoyed by all ages.