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Undine Is Fey, Exotic, Inaccessible.

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Undine Is Fey, Exotic, Inaccessible. 4

Undine(German)

Starring Paula Beer, Franz Rogowski, Maryam Zaree, Jacob Matschenz

Directed  by Christian Petzold

Rating: **

Undine opens with a  painful  breakup. Well, maybe not so painful as inevitable. For , those born to  live in the water must  be prepared  to sink . According to mythology Undine is an underwater creature  which comes to earth to be loved, and  then goes back to its watery grave.

Water  and the ocean play a big part in Undine. With such an aqueous expanse  at its disposal  can the film find space for the heroine’s  tears during the  breakup? It is  dry-eyed breakup, sardonic  in  mood  with dark undertones as  Undine says to her  unfaithful boyfriend,  “If  you leave me I’ll have to kill you.”

That,  it turns out, is no empty boast. Undine  played by  the well-known German actress Paul Beer, is  a very strange woman. She  belongs  in the water but also fears  it. Very soon after the breakup with  Johannes(Jacob Matschenz) she meets Christoph(Franz Rogowski) in a  pet shop where she saves his life when  the  overhead fish tank comes crashing down.That  soggy saga again!

 Water is  both  threatening and life-giving, nurturing and  vitiating  in this  exotic, enigmatic  and ultimately inaccessible romp into  the  supernatural underbelly  of   love. It is  not a likeable film. I don’t think we are  supposed to  like a film which feeds  on  the  idea of love ,even while fuelling its toxic side-effects  , all the while masquerading as a modern mythology.

Nothing in the film appears mythic , least   of all Paula Beer’s Undine  . The actress  lacks the classic look needed to make the mythological  undercurrents  come alive. It’s a pleasant comic face  and  I very often waited for her to drop  her  grave demeanour and burst out laughing.

 There isn’t much humour in the  goings-on. Not  in the way Undine  spurns her replacement  lover  Christoph’s devotion, almost as  if she doesn’t want  love to conquer her destiny of  a watery grave. She is finally just a vengeful  woman who sinks  into the  deep ocean while diving into her inner darkness. Setting aside  all pretensions  to profundity  Undine is  finally as soggy as  the   environment it embraces.

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