Undine: Movie Review
Paula Beer is Undine, a historian who lectures locally about the past of Berlin and who as the film begins tells former lover Johannes that if he leaves her, she will have to kill him. Despite this, Johannes leaves, and just as it looks like Undine will exact her vengeance, she chance meets local diver Christophe (Franz Rogowski), latching onto him and launching into an affair.
Undine's supernatural moments are what lets the film down.
For a film obsessed with water, and whose enjoyment probably relies greatly on some knowledge of the Ondine story, Undine is stubbornly obtuse and difficult to piece together. Moments tend to occur with little reason, and seemingly minor coincidences that are supposed to connect don't quite resonate perhaps as they should.
Thankfully, in the midst of all this, remains a central relationship between Beer and Rogowski that feels wistful and full of heart, keeping viewers entertained and papering over some of the narrative cracks. From Beer's opening moments where she seems defeated by an inner conflict and a necessary route, to moments where she's more open and animated, Undine feels more alive than the script would grant her.
Ultimately, Undine may entice audiences in, but it's hard work getting through the short 90 minute run time, despite Petzold's sharp-eyed lensing, and beauteous cinematography.