Neil Jordan (Breakfast on Pluto, The Crying Game) has the ability to enchant discerning arthouse cineastes for a while at least with his heartwarming Irish fable Ondine.
Colin Farrell, who did so well as a popular country music crooner opposite Oscar winner Jeff Bridges in Crazy Heart, leads a decent ensemble which takes place in Castletownbere, a quaint coastal hamlet.
Farrell's crestfallen, toiling fisherman, Syracuse, is a recovering alcoholic, and a doting dad of pre-teen daughter Annie (Alison Berry) who is awaiting a kidney transplant.
Annie's life with her pint-loving mum (Dervia Kirwan) is mostly uneventful, compared to her dad's experience of netting "the girl who came from the water." This enigmatic seraph of sorts (Polish model and Farrell's off-screen paramour Alicja Bachleda) is in need of sanctuary as she assumes the titular name from a mythical sea sprite. According to the curious and "curiouser" Annie, this possible mermaid could be a "selkie" a sea creature who finds love with a mortal before going back to a natural salt-water habitat.
Jordan has something tranquil and whimsical to offer, especially for lovers of Eire as Syracuse hides the unusual young woman in his late mum's small seaside cottage. When she is aboard while he fishes there is a bountiful supply of salmon and lobsters. Yet, when a stranger (Emil Hostina) appears, an ominous aura threatens her odd wonderous charm.
A pertinacious, pervading mood is captured through the score and lensing of Christopher Doyle, and it helps that Farrell has a certain rascally softness in his etching, good especially opposite a captivating Berry. Even if the filmmaking and storytelling lack some coherence in the lattergoing with less of a dramatic payoff than expected, a poetic redemptiveness is felt even if brogues may be too much Irish blarney for some.