Undine (2020)

Director: Christian Petzold
Writer: Christian Petzold
Cast: Paula Beer, Franz Rogowski, Maryam Zaree, Jacob Matschenz,
Seen on: 16.7.2020

Undine (Paula Beer) is happy with her boyfriend Johannes (Jacob Matschenz) – or so she thought. When he breaks up with her, she is surprised and devastated. She knows that having her heart broken means that she has to take revenge on Johannes – because she is a water sprite and that’s what mythology demands of her. By chance she immediately meets diver Christoph (Franz Rogowski). Their meeting is elemental, and so is there love. Undine hopes that she might have tricked fate that way, but she doesn’t know.

Undine is a beautiful, understated film with perfect performances. It may not be my movie of the year, but it’s definitely a good one.

The film poster showing Undine (Paula Beer) in Christoph's (Franz Rogowski) arms, looking back over his shoulder.

Undine is a fantasy film that seems not to realize that it is fantasy. It feels so grounded in reality despite the fact that its protagonist is a water sprite. It’s not a case of “maybe there’s magic”, there is magic and that’s just the way it is. In this matter of fact approach, Petzold quite effectively blurs the lines between reality and fantasy, making reality more fantastical and fantasy more routine. I really liked that atmosphere.

I also very much liked Undine and Christoph and the way their relationship develops. That’s probably mostly to the credit of the actors: Beer and Rogowski have both strong presences on their own, but together, they are simply electric. Their love is so frank, vulnerable and tender, it was just beautiful to watch.

Undine (Paula Beer) and Christoph (Franz Rogowski) walking arm in arm.

That the film still didn’t make it to the top of my movie list straight away is due to two things, mostly: one, the moments when we see Undine at work, guiding groups through a city (planning) exhibit, the movie ground to a halt for me – I would have preferred had it used that time to stay with Christoph and Undine instead. And two, the big fight between Undine and Christoph added more drama to it than I thought necessary.

But still, it’s a super sweet film that creates a very special feeling on screen that’s absolutely worth experiencing. Catch it if you can.

A figure of a diver in an aquarium.

Summarizing: Enchanting.

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