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.
German director Christian Petzold’s latest film sees him dip his toes in the water of the fantasy genre, with this light fantasy romance that plays on the German myth of the water nymph. ‘Undine’ reunites Petzold with his ‘Transit’ stars Paula Beer and Franz Rogowski to tell the story of the romance that develops between Undine, a historian (Beer) and Christoph, an industrial diver (Rogowski). It’s a film with an intriguing set up and I liked how Petzold weaves mystery through the narrative in eerie ways, but after this set up I felt it lost its way and almost fizzled out as it headed towards its conclusion.
‘Undine’ plays on a lot of different themes, using Beer’s historian as a mouthpiece to enlighten the audience on the post war development of Berlin, which is used as a contrast with the myths of the past (represented by Undine). It crackles in the early moments, namely in a great scene when Undine and Christoph meet involving an aquarium, and I felt both actors (Rogowski in particular) really sold the thrill and enchantment they felt at their encounter and simmering romance. After this though, I felt the film struggled to develop in intriguing ways and the imagination suggested by the opening gives way to something altogether more conventional.
‘Undine’ is a solid departure for Christian Petzold and features a couple of good performances with a suitably odd premise to match, but overall this is another Petzold film (following ‘Transit’ and ‘Phoenix’) that didn’t fully connect with me.
Directed By: Christian Petzold
Starring: Paula Beer, Franz Rogowski, Jacob Matschenz and Maryam Zaree