No one could accuse Irish director Neil Jordan of staying on one topic for too long. As someone who has tackled subjects as varied as the historical fight for Irish independence (“Michael Collins”), a classic Graham Greene romance (“The End of the Affair”), the undead (“Interview with a Vampire”), and now, mermaids, Jordan’s taste for variety has always fueled his creativity.
“I just wanted to make a happy film,” Jordan says about his latest project, “Ondine,” about a fisherman who finds the unlikeliest catch in his nets one day — a woman. “I’ve made many movies that have been brutal. I just thought to myself, why have I never made something that is kind of forgiving?”
In “Ondine,” Colin Farrell plays Syracuse, a recovering alcoholic who looks after his young wheelchair-bound daughter. While there are a few strong parallels between the character of Syracuse and Farrell himself, Jordan says they were not entirely intentional.
“I suppose subconsciously the reference to alcoholism did creep in because I was thinking of Colin [for the role],” admits Jordan. “But it was an odd intersection because Colin has a child that has special needs, so he did know the territory.”
That’s not the only twist of fate surrounding the film: Star Alicja Bachleda, who portrays the woman Syracuse dredges up from the ocean and who radically changes his life, began dating Farrell after their time on the set. The two now have a child together. Perhaps it was the magic in the script that influenced the romance?
“If there’s any metaphor in the movie, it’s the question, ‘Can people live their lives without any sense of fantasy or myth, or an imaginative kind of dimension other than their rational explanation of who they are?’ I don’t actually think that they can,” Jordan says. “I think we’re not really rational human beings at all when it comes down to our hidden desires.”