DVD: Ondine


DIR/WRI: Neil Jordan • PRO: Ben Browning, James Flynn, Neil Jordan • DOP: Christopher Doyle • ED: Tony Lawson • DES: Anna Rackard • CAST: Colin Farrell, Alicja Bachleda, Stephen Rea, Dervla Kirwan, Alison Barry, Tony Curran

A beautiful, possibly preternatural young woman offers a world-weary trawler-man a new lease of life in Neil Jordan’s whimsical new feature. Working from an original screenplay – his first in well over a decade – Ondine sees the director return to themes of fantasy, myth and the power of storytelling that made early works such as The Company of Wolves and The Miracle so memorable.

The premise is a model of simplicity: has Syracuse (Colin Farrell), a West Cork fisherman on his uppers, uncovered a mermaid (Alicja Bachleda), in his fishing nets or merely a girl named Ondine who is too scared to tell the truth? Whatever the explanation, her ethereal singing seems to produce bountiful hauls of fish, enough to make Syracuse wonder if his luck is about to change.

And not a moment too soon. A recovering alcoholic, Syracuse has long been dismissed by the townsfolk as a hopeless case. The divorced father of Annie (Alison Barry), a very sick little girl who lives with her drunken mother (Dervla Kirwan) and feckless Scottish partner, his sole confidant and surrogate AA sponsor is the parish priest, played by Jordan regular Stephen Rae with his customary wit and subtlety.

Upon learning of her oceanic provenance, Annie begins to fashion a myth around Ondine, likening her to a Selkie, a sea creature in Celtic folklore capable of bestowing luck on beleaguered mortals. Who is Syracuse to disabuse her of this fanciful notion?

The film is at its strongest when Jordan foregrounds the mystical elements of his slight, yet endearing tale; the real-world tensions over Ondine’s true identity are less interesting; the contrived climax, engineered to place order upon an ambiguous narrative, is disappointingly rational.

There’s no escaping the feeling that Ondine is a minor work from Jordan, but it’s a pleasurable, mellow experience, strikingly shot by the justly feted Christopher Doyle with a nicely judged central performance from Farrell (whose Whest Kark accent is at times occasional). Best to leave one’s cynicism at the door.

David O Mahony

Ondine is available on DVD from 16th August

Extra DVD Features include: ‘Making of Ondine: Behind the Scenes’ featurette

  • Format: Anamorphic, Colour, PAL, Widescreen
  • Language English
  • Region: Region 2
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 – 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 12
  • Studio: Paramount Home Entertainment
  • Run Time: 100 minutes

Click here for Film Ireland’s interview with Neil Jordan, Colin Farrell & Alicja Bachleda


Film Ireland Interviews with Neil Jordan, Colin Farrell & Alicja Bachleda

Ondine goes on general release on Friday March 5th 2010 and is the story of an Irish fisherman (Farrell) who discovers a woman (Bachleda) in his fishing net, who he believes to be a mermaid.

Jordan talks about the genesis of the story and his collaborations with cinematographer Christopher Doyle (see Film Ireland 126 Jan/Feb 2009 for an interview with Doyle) and musician Kjartan Sveinsson of Sigur Rós on the score, while Farrell explores the background of his character, Syracuse. Bachleda reflects on her experiences of shooting the film on her first visit to Ireland.


The interview with Neil Jordan & Colin Farrell is approximately 10 minutes in length. To view, please click here:


The interview with Alicja Bachleda is approximately 7 minutes in length. To view, please click here: