This past Tuesday was the monthly meeting of the Movie Day Book Club. Last month, we read Home by Marilynne Robinson, and we both really enjoyed it. Robinson's writing is just beautiful, and she explores complicated human issues with both wisdom and respect for the intricate relationship between reality and mystery. But as much as I enjoyed Home, it didn't come near the beauty of her previous book Gilead. Now that book is on my short-list of best novels of all time.
We weren't as pleased with our movie choice this time. It was okay, I guess, but not one I'd really recommend. Here's the synopsis:
ONDINE is a lyrical modern fairy tale that tells the story of Syracuse (Colin Farrell), an Irish fisherman whose life is transformed when he catches a beautiful and mysterious woman (Alicja Bachleda) in his nets. She says her name is Ondine, which means "she came from the sea". His daughter Annie (Alison Barry) comes to believe that the woman is a selkie, a magical seal/woman creature, while Syracuse falls helplessly in love. In the Celtic myth, a selkie is able to become human by taking off her seal coat, and can return to seal form by putting it back on. However, like all fairy tales, enchantment and darkness go hand in hand. Annie hopes that Ondine has come to live on land for 7 years and that she can use her selkie wish to cure Annie's kidney failure. Whenever Ondine is onboard Syracuse's fishing boat, she sings a siren song, and his nets and lobster pots are full of fish and seafood in tremendous numbers hard to believe. However, being Irish, Syracuse (or "Circus" the nickname he is trying to outlive, one he has earned for his previous hard drinking ways) is mistrustful of good luck, with it comes bad. Is Ondine really a selkie, will she stay, can love be trusted? What is Ondine's real secret? And who is the menacing man lurking around town spying on her? Is he her selkie husband come to claim her back to the sea?
Sounds like a beautiful story, right? And it is, in a way. The scenery is breathtaking, and the story, at least in the first half-or-so, is magical. But Farrell's Irish accent is almost impossible to understand, which makes it very difficult to follow the story, and the film has an abrupt change in tone. The end just doesn't seem to go with the beginning.