LFF Review: Undine


DIRECTED BY: Christian Petzold

STARRING: Paula Beer, Franz Rogowski, Gloria Endres de Oliveria, Jacob Matschenz, Rafael Stachowiak and Maryam Zaree

 

SYNOPSIS

Undine works as a historian lecturing on Berlin’s urban development. But when the man she loves leaves her, the ancient myth catches up with her. Undine has to kill the man who betrays her and return to the water.

Undine is a historian who works at the Senate Administration for Urban Development in Berlin. When she is dumped by her boyfriend at a nearby cafe, she returns and by chance meets industrial diver Christoph and the two spark a whirlwind romance.

Written and directed by Christian Petzold we follow a young woman named Undine, who we meet at a cafe where her boyfriend is breaking up with her. When she pleads with him to remain there until she can come back from her break at world, she returns to find him gone. When there, she encounters a man named Christoph, where an unforgettable incident leads them on a romantic journey.

 

Petzold’s take on the Undine myth is well directed, particularly in the sequences involved underwater as Christoph works as an industrial diver, and they’re complimented well by the cinematography work of Hans Fromm and the editorial work by Bettina Böhler. There’s a great amount of chemistry between Paula Beer and Franz Rogowski that makes the romance between their characters feel authentic, and both give really good performances.

 

The film tries to blend the fairytale with the history of Berlin through Undine’s lectures at the Senate Administration for Urban Development, but those scenes felt prolonged and as a whole, there’s that much ambiguity in the narrative of tackling the mythology of Undine as more grounded than fantastical that made it cold-viewing (no pun intended) and just didn’t connect with me, particularly when we get the the second-half of the films runtime.

 

VERDICT

Undine is well directed by Petzold, Beer and Rogowski give really good performances and have terrific chemistry, but the ambiguity of the narrative, particularly in the second half, left me cold. 

½

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