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Ondine [DVD]
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 7 December 2010
I think that I am correct in saying that this is the only current review which relates specifically to the Blu-ray release of this film? I especially wanted to purchase this film in Blu-ray because of the subject matter and locations and I was not in the least disappointed with the video and audio quality. In blu-ray the film is not that easy to obtain because you have to buy an import and there is no definitive information available about region compatibility. I ended up buying an Australian import which fortunately, plays perfectly.

As is often the case with Jordan's films he has, if you ignore the pun, the viewer 'hooked' within a few minutes. The subject matter has been well covered in previous reviews and there is no need for repetition other than to endorse the praise levelled on the performance of both Alicja Bachleda as 'Ondine' and Alison Barry as the young Annie. Both Colin Farrell and Stephen Rea are also excellent in their respective roles and there are no weak links with the rest of the cast. The backgound music is also worthy of mention. The music is quite haunting and sensual and adds to the overall enjoyment of the movie.

A much under-rated film which I can thoughly recommend.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
*** THIS REVIEW IS FOR 'BOTH' THE DVD and BLU RAY VERSIONS ***

Colin Farrell has become a great actor - not just a good one - a great one - and there's a very real difference. As wildly differing characters, he has amassed an accumulation of powerhouse performances in "London Boulevard", "In Bruges", "Crazy Heart" and "The Way Back" - there seems little he can't do. And Director/Writer Neil Jordan was smart enough to surround him with a hugely complimentary cast on "Ondine" (filmed in 2008) that I dare say the handsome and talented Dubliner absolutely relished working with.

Set in a quiet fishing village in Southern Ireland, Farrell plays Syracuse (nick-named "Circus" because of his previous clown-like antics when drunk) who goes out to fish every day, but both life and the sea have beaten him and his boat into a hopeless wreck. But then something almost mystical happens...

The gorgeous Alicja Bachleda is "Ondine" - a woman literally fished out of the Sea into Syarcuse's trawler net one afternoon. Maybe she's a magical sea-creature - maybe she's not. She can't remember - but mysteriously she seems aware enough to not want to see 'other people' whom she perceives as dangerous. And whenever she sings on his boat, bountiful things happen to his catch - and therefore his fortunes.

Recovering from drink himself, a broken marriage to another drunk (a great performance of skill from Dervla Kirwan) and trying to keep his sick daughter alive (a sensational and touching turn by newcomer Alison Barry), Farrell's character has his hands full. He then confesses all of this to his local Catholic priest, because he knows that the confessional bounds him to secrecy (a wonderfully weary and understated turn by Stephen Rea - who has starred in 12 of Neil Jordan's movies).

But the heart of the film belongs to Alison Barry as Annie - trundling around lanes and grass pathways in her motorized wheelchair. A precocious and witty child - she comforts her troubled Dad - while also giving him a very real reason to stay sober (two years and counting). But fate has cruelly lumbered Annie with a life-destroying condition of her own - a failing liver. Ever upbeat though - Annie believes in magic - fairytales - and her talks with the ethereal "Ondine" only fuel this.

But while she's playful and charming at first with the mysterious woman who seems to permanently love the sea, Annie soon wants and needs more. Weakened by the draining hours of Dialysis - she craves a cure, a proper family, a happy ending. Annie starts to dangerously believe wholeheartedly (like a child would) in the 'good luck charm' Syracuse has been blessed with. Daddy's beautiful lady in the secret cottage down by the shore is the saving of them all. Ondine wouldn't be hiding something...would she? And on the story craftily goes to a lovely Sigur Ros song sung on television towards the end...

Filmed on location, the scenery is ace, the locals are believable and the bonds that hold together and destroy a family are realistically portrayed. Believable humour even crops up from time to time - the two fishery officials peering down on Ondine tangled up in his nets instead of salmon (dialogue above). And to the cinematographer's credit they make the Beara Peninsula in Cork where it was filmed look beautiful but not like an Irish Tourist board advert. Even Colin's Cork accent is good and lends his character a 'humbled-man' feel, which really works. And as Farrell and the intoxicating Bachleda fell in love on set for real, there's also a secret tenderness and chemistry at play between them that feels like art imitating life. It finishes on a lovely song called "Braille" by Lisa Hannigan that sees out the credits...

To sum up - "Ondine" is not a blockbuster - it's a small film with a big heart.
I had a feeling it would be good - and it is.
Lovely, lovely stuff...

Note: A WORD ABOUT THE 'BLU RAY' VERSION:
At present (February 2012) "Ondine" is on BLU RAY but only in the USA. The good news is that the 2010 American release on Magnolia Home Entertainment is 'all regions' so it will play on UK machines (type in barcode 876964003384 in Amazon and it will direct you to the correct issue).

Audio is English 5.1 DTS-HD and there are two Subtitles - English for the Hard Of Hearing and Spanish

The aspect is defaulted 1.85:1 so it fills the entire screen and it's BEAUTIFUL to look at about 90% of the time. There are moments when blocking appears (the opening shots - the intruders at night in their home) but these are few and far between. The clarity when Colin's in the confessional with Stephen Rea - when he's talking head to head with his daughter - absolutely spot on - and a joy to look at.

The 2 Extras are 10 and 8 minutes and have interviews with most of the cast and the Director - very nice - if not a little short.

If you can plum the extra for the BR then go for it - because this is a movie that shines on that format...
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29 of 33 people found the following review helpful
"Ondine" is one of those films that seems to have suffered from a lack of publicity, allowing it to slip quietly under the radar, which is rather a pity for such a charming film. Perhaps its cause was not helped by having only one recognised star, although there seems to be another one in the making, in the lovely form of Alicja Bachleda. It also has a strange offbeat story, which may have put some people off. The film has a haunting mix of Irish mythology, love story and mystery thriller, all in a contemporary setting. Perhaps it is the sort of beguiling film that only an Irishman with sufficient blarney could pull off?

The story concerns an Irish fisherman Syracuse, played by Colin Farrell, who catches a rather beautiful girl, played by Alicja Bachleda, in his fishing nets. Some blokes get all the luck! All I ever seem to catch is the occasional, very unnattractive looking dogfish. He sensibly decides not to throw her back in. The girl speaks with a strange accent and swims like a fish. Things get curiouser and curiouser. Is she a Selkie (mermaid) of Irish mythology? Is she perhaps just an illegal immigrant? The plot thickens and is complicated further as our fisherman predictably falls in love with his catch, and what red blooded male wouldn't. The water nyph sings like an angel, and Syracuse even begins to catch salmon and lobster, long thought fished out in the area. Who could fail to be enamoured! But as in the fairy stories of the brothers Grimm, there is a dark side to our story.

Director and writer Neil Jordan, and his star Colin Farrell have gone back to their roots for this one. The film was made in Castletownbere, in County Cork, Ireland, where Jordan lives. Farrell made one of his early TV appearances which was filmed in the village. Working in such a comfort zone does not always lead to a good film, but in this case it does. Jordan's script is always literate, and given the subject matter, not too far fetched. The scenes he wrote for Farrell's wheelchair bound daughter in the film never become maudlin, which would have been an easy snare to fall into. Farrell is well suited to his role and able to fall back on his stock Irish brogue with genuine enthusiasm. It is nice to see him escape again from pretty boy roles in films like "Miami Vice" and "Swat", and do something more meaty as he did with the excellent "In Bruges". But perhaps the biggest surprise is Alicja Bachleda, who possesses such a strange ethereal beauty, as to suggest she may well be of another world. There are many good scenes with her, especially memorable being one where she slowly emerges from still waters. Much more impressive than even Darryl Hannah in "Splash", whom she makes look like "the wicked witch of the west". Bachleda studied at the famed Lee Strasbourg acting academy, so she is well schooled. Her family are one of the biggest and most famous Polish highland families, which is ironic given her role in the film which is most definitely all at sea level. She was apparently very good in the Kevin Kline film "Trade", and is definitely one to look out for. Farrell was certainly smitten as the two are now partners, and Balcheda has had her first child with him. One would imagine that this relationship will not be harmful to her career!

This is certainly a film well worth watching. It has moments of genuine humour, especially between Farrell and his confessor priest. The love story is not of the sickly sweet variety, that I often struggle with. The story keeps you guessing throughout, and allows the imagination to run riot. Aside from Balcheda, the films other great strength is the beautiful atmospheric cinematography by Christopher Doyle, which does justice to the dramatic Irish coastline. The amazing qualities of water, in reflection and movement are picked up perfectly. A mention should also be made of the lovely film score, rich in traditionally based Irish folksy ballads, which picks up the atmosphere of the film perfectly. It makes you want to cry when you see the production line of silly American girly flicks being so successful, when a literate and intelligent film like "Ondine" seems to sink without trace. An all too familiar story unfortunately.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 15 September 2010
Enjoyable Movie. Beautiful backdrop of West Cork helps the fairytale feel of this film. This is the film where Farrell met Balcheda, his current leading lady, and the chemistry shows. Not one of the high budget blockbusters, but still an excellent watch.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
There's nothing quite like a good fable. And on the outside, Ondine has all the aspects of such a thing: timeless, charming and innocent, it tells the tale of a fisherman eking out an existence in a coastal Irish village. Syracuse has been off the booze that destroyed his marriage for a few years now, but sobriety hasn't transformed his life like some catch-all cure. He remains a poor and lonely man, struggling against his demons, his daughter the only thing that keeps him on the straight and narrow track. But Annie is stricken with kidney disease, and her alcoholic mother, whom she lives with, has taken up with a dodgy Scottish bloke. Aren't they all?

Things take a turn when one day, while out on the boat trawling through the ocean for his daily fish, Syracuse finds - much to his surprise - a beautiful girl in his nets. When she comes to she introduces herself as Ondine, and insists that he not take her to the hospital. Grudgingly, Syracuse hides Ondine away in his late mother's ramshackle cottage, but Annie, inquisitive little creature that she is, soon discovers her father's secret: a selkie, she believes; a mythical seal-creature who has left her skin in the sea to spend seven years and seven tears on Syracuse.

As Annie, newcomer Alison Barry is lumbered with the larger part of Ondine's mythical underpinnings. Having checked out all the local library's books on the subject, she acts as the mouthpiece for all the fantastic aspects of the film, explaining the history and practices of selkies - a thankless role, you might think, yet Barry steals the show. This little girl is a revelation: heartbreakingly brave during dialysis sessions, wonderfully witty in her exchanges with Ondine and a smart foil for Colin Farrell's struggling fisherman. She is singularly the most impressive aspect of Neil Jordan's latest film.

Which isn't to say Ondine doesn't have a whole lot more going for it. Farrell, too, impresses, turning in a more low-key performance than he's become known for without losing that quirky charisma that makes him such a pleasure to watch. Stephen Rea is hilariously dry as Syracuse's embittered priest. As the selkie herself, Alicja Bachleda brings a quality of otherworldliness to Ondine that, were it lacking, would rob the film of much of its charm; she has a certain chemistry with Farrell, of course, though everyone's favourite Irish actor carries the load. Bachleda only truly sparkles around Alison Barry, the life and soul of this picture.

For the most part, Neil Jordan, directing from his own spare script, captures the gently devastating spirit of Ondine perfectly. This isn't his first brush with the fantastic, of course. In The Company of Wolves and Interview with the Vampire he proved himself up to the task of establishing an authentic tone, and he carries off the more subdued atmosphere of Ondine all the way through to the last act, when things sadly take an ill-advised turn. From the get-go you get the sense Syracuse will have to confront his demons at some point, but when the face-off occurs, it feels abrupt, and at odds with all that has come before. And then Jordan goes and explains the mechanics of his fable, diminishing with every unnecessary word the tantalising mystery of it all.

Luckily, Ondine recovers some of its allure in its last moments. Jordan doesn't quite squander all that he's worked towards, and his collaborators are such an accomplished bunch that even at its lowest ebb, Ondine is a beautiful thing to behold. The cinematography throughout is exquisite, the timeless landscapes of green and grey a wonder of the natural world composed and shot just so; and the score... oh my. Between Sigur Ros, the woeful, wilting tones of one-time Damien Rice backing vocalist Lisa Hannigan and a host of others, Ondine sounds as out of this world as it looks.

I've been looking forward to Ondine since its first appearance on the festival circuit late last year, so I'm chuffed to bits to see so many of my hopes for it realised. The intrusion of reality on a narrative so purposefully set apart from the undiscerning brutality of the world rather takes the edge off any proclamations of unqualified greatness, but there is, at the end of the day, a great deal about this film to love: from its restrained tone to Alison Barry's stellar performance, from its unforgettable aesthetics to their superlative aural accompaniment. This is a fantastic fable, all told, momentarily misguided but otherwise breathtaking from end to end.
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Coming from a fishing family I was especially fascinated with the story. What wonderful scenery and a gorgeous little cabin by the water, I want to move there. Hauling lobster pots by hand from such a large vessel was a bit of a surprise. Colin Farrell struggled most convincingly. As Syracuse aka 'Circus' for his past clownish drunken ways he is compelling - the powerful moment you want to shout out loud - No! Moving and exciting stuff, It was an evening's dramatic entertainment marred only by not being able to understand quite a lot of what they were saying, plus a fair amount was shot in the dark which made it all the more murky. All the characters fitted their roles - I loved the threatening selkie 'husband' prancing about on the cliffs with his long legs and whiskery seal face, opening tins of pilchards to snack on. Anna in the wheelchair while waiting for a kidney transplant was charming, endearingly wistful. 'Curiouser and curiouser' she muttered as she followed the trail of her father's story and made it her own. Ondine herself was every fisherman's dream right down to her siren like singing voice. Alicja Bachleda is totally gorgeous. All the way through you are wondering is this a fairy tale or can it be real? Well worth the trouble of interpreting the mumbled dialogue. Suitable for older children if they can cope with the small amount of bullying violence towards the end. The music is evocative and stirring.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 10 September 2010
Just watched this, thought it was a great movie.

Story was different and original, acting really good. And it makes great use of the location, which I believe is Ireland but I know movies double alot either way it looks nice.
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VINE VOICEon 18 September 2011
An Irish fisherman played by Colin Farrell hauls up an interesting prize in his trawler net. It is a beautiful creature named Ondine (Alicja Bachleda) Ondine means from the sea. She seems a little awkward of the world. So when the fisherman tells his daughter (Alison Barry) the tale she knows he found a selkie, a mythical sea creature with powers and abilities. The fisher man is starting to see things through his daughter's eyes and so are we. Will the selkie stay for the allotted seven years or be carried away by her sea husband? Let's hope everything turns out all right as in a fairytale.

The highlight of the film for me is the encounters of the fisherman Syracuse and the local priest played by Stephen Rea.
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on 26 February 2011
This is an enjoyable, unchallenging film which is in keeping with the tranquil, relaxing scenery on the west coast of Ireland. Actually, the scenery gives the film more than a little of its charm however there are some decent performances from not only Colin Farrell in one of the main roles but also from Alison Barry who plays his daughter.

The film is classed as a 12 however there are a couple of spots of language & also a couple of scenes which are sexually charged which can make watching this with your younger children a tad awkward.

Nice viewing for a quiet night in.
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on 30 April 2011
A fantastic bit of story telling with everyone well cast.

Syracuse is a simple fisherman who catches a beautiful and mysterious women in his trawler's nets (likeable Irish rogue meets 'otherworldly' mystery beauty). His ill child steals the show but the film had us guessing throughout.

Magic and the Selkie Folklore mix well here. A great night in.
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