Colin Farrell stars as Syracuse, a recovering alcoholic, down and out, mellow fisherman who catches a hot girl in his net. She says her name is Ondine (Alicja Bachleda-Curu?), we don’t really know if that’s her real name, and you like her but you don’t like her – it’s not that you’re suspicious towards her, it’s more like … indifference. You don’t know who she is.

Syracuse, or “Circus” from his drinking days, helps Ondine by giving her shelter and clothes and protection from whatever she is needing protection from. The audience can’t figure it out. But she has pretty beach girl hair, sings well, and is a good swimmer.

His very cute, very smart daughter Anna (Allison Barry), is suffering from kidney failure and lives with his alcoholic ex-wife and boyfriend. She gets a motorized wheelchair and motates around the Irish island the movie takes place on, a rocky, gray, cold place. If you’re into that gritty, aquatic, small town character-driven movies, this hits the spot.

Anyway, one of her curious adventures reveals Ondine.

Ondine and Anna become friends based on the daughter’s belief that she’s a Selkie – a water creature who sheds their skin to become human but must go back into the water at a certain time. Selkies sing to the fishes and bring luck. Ondine neither denies or admits to being said creature.

The rest of the story goes about being swept up in believing in legends and stories that you know possibly cannot exist. It’s really a comment on religion, miracles and faith. You want to believe
the story, especially when you see Syracuse slowly buying into the
Selkie mystique and falling in love, and not really knowing how to deal
with it. Because love is a magical mystical thing itself? hmmmm?

But like religion, there’s a logical and rational explanation for the events that happen to Syracuse, Anna, and Ondine, and you get to see how it unfolds. Director Neil Jordan does this right – a tad too sentimental but not annoyingly and horrendously irritating so. Menopausal women will love this.

The last time I saw Colin Farrell, and the first time I realized I really like him (despite his not-so-great acting skills) was in In Bruges, a great, funny but sentimental and a little surreal sleeper hit. There’s this thing about him, the actor, where he’s in front of the camera, and you’re all “eh”, but then he cracks a joke, in this instance, with the great, deadpan Stephen Rea, and you’re like “this is why I like this guy!”

But he really isn’t the center of the film, Alicja Bachleda-Curu? and Allison Barry seem to have way more screen-time. You’re detached from Syracuse, you don’t quite “get” him – he’s a little reserved. Which, I think, is a good role for Colin Farrell.

It’s a sweet, gripping, loving story. It’s odd and not so exciting and slightly cliche, but also, a little endearing. It’s a perfect rainy day movie – I wish I could have watched it on my couch in my jammies. It’s a cold, pale, fleshy thing.

Starts today at the Clay.

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