As a fantasy writer I am always looking out for new fantasy movies. I have my classic favorites Legend, The NeverEnding Story, The Witches and Time Bandits. As well as new favorites The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Spiderwick Chronicles, Harry Potter series, Lord of the Rings series and Legends of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’hoole. Still it always seems that there are not enough of them and to much of other movies that I cannot believe even get made (such as Couple’s Retreat).
I was thrilled when I heard about the movie Ondine about a fisherman (Collin Farrell) who rescues a woman from the sea who might be a Selkie. A Selkie is a shapeshifter that can be human or a seal. The myth orginated in the Orkney Islands. My current story and work-in-progress has a Selkie as one of the main characters. Selkies in mainstream movies are rare. The last one I know of was The Secret of Roan Inish. With Ondine being head-lined with a major actor I felt this was a positive move to spark more interest in Selkies. Neil Jordan directed and wrote Ondine, along with some of my other favorites by him The End of the Affair and The Crying Game.
Happily I went to the local Redbox and rented it. Overall I enjoyed the movie. It was well acted and the story line was interesting and full of conflict. Many comments had been made that the accents were hard to understand, but I did not have a problem with it. Typically Irish the story itself is heartbreaking. Divorced parents, one sober, one not, are raising an inquisitive child named Annie who needs a kidney transplant. One day out at sea the girl’s father, Syracuse, pulls in a woman up with his daily catch of fish. She tells them her name is Ondine which she says means from the sea. She is strange and beautiful. Syracuse and Annie, along with a few others, are convinced she is a Selkie who has run away from her Selkie husband.
Do not read further if you do not want a spoiler!
Throughout the whole movie I was rooting for Ondine to be a Selkie. I wanted that fantasy story to be part of a complex contemporary story. Unfortunately at the end, Ondine confesses that she was really a drug mule who was thrown over board in a drug deal gone bad out at sea.
The build up of her mysterious story leads the viewer depressingly back to reality. I understand reality, it is the world we live in. There are no monsters of the deep, there are no elves in the forest, there are no trolls in the mountains and there are no fairies in the flowers. As a lover of fantasy I do not need a reminder that these things do not exist. If this story had taken the next step and actually set the stage to have the real world collide with the world of myth and legend the emotions, transitions and conflicts would have heightened the elements of the story. Wouldn’t it be more fun to force characters to recognize that the world they live in is much bigger and more mysterious than they thought?