A lone fisherman out in his boat on an overcast day pulls in his trawler's nets and finds a huge surprise crashing into his quiet, mundane life: a woman. She's barely alive, but the fisherman, Syracuse (Colin Farrell), revives her. Respecting her skittish and mysterious pleas to be kept hidden, he installs her in his recently deceased mother's seaside cottage.
Syracuse shares his startling discovery with his plucky, wheelchair-bound daughter, Annie (Alison Barry), in the form of a fable to distract her during her weekly dialysis treatment. But the precocious girl sees right through her dad's "fairy tale," and secretly follows him until she spies the woman she suspects is a selkie, a mythical sea creature of Irish folklore.
Though Syracuse is troubled by this new woman in his life—the source of amusing conversations with his priest friend (Stephen Rea)—he's also delighted by the good luck she seems to bring. When he takes her out on the boat with him, she sings—and suddenly his nets are overflowing with fish. The financial boost from these hauls is helpful as Syracuse is trying to get custody of Annie from his ex-wife, the drunken loudmouth he left when he sobered up two years ago.
Plus, this mystery woman, who says her name is Ondine (Alicja Bachleda), isn't so bad to look at—especially when she's constantly tromping her leggy self around dressed merely in oversized tops or just lacy underthings.
Syracuse and Annie both form attachments to Ondine—finding tentative but needed hope in her mysteriousness. This mystery seems the perfect antidote to their dreary lives—stuck in a wheelchair, or in a drab, lonely job, both in a difficult family situation.
Ondine captures this dreariness well. The ...1
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