The celebrated German filmmaker Christian Petzold is working with Paula Beer and Franz Rogowski on his latest film, which remythologizes the story of Undine (Beer) – a water nymph who becomes human as soon as she falls in love with a man (Jacob Matschenz), but then Doomed is dying when he reveals his infidelity to her and decides to end their relationship. The film starts here. Undine warns Johannes (Matschenz) that if he leaves she will kill him so that she can survive and break her curse. Johannes leaves, however, and Undine is cursed … until she meets Christoph (Rogowski), in whom they both fall in love and start a relationship. Undine starts out as a simple “romantic” drama until it gets a little much darker once it starts exploring the mythical story it is based on. Unfortunately, his exploration only feels superficial, as Petzold prefers to keep it way too simple without exploring the torments of his main protagonists.
Undine is cursed – we know that implicitly from the beginning of the film, through Paula Beer’s facial expressions and the visual cues of the film, which tell us that we are seeing the story of Undine in a contemporary setting. All of this is great, but it is not enough for us to delve deep into the tormented psyche of the main protagonist. When she learns that Johannes is leaving her, she goes back to work, and there is massive uncertainty. The audience should want to know what they think of Johannes ’infidelity; How can she live now in a world in which she will soon die or have to commit the unthinkable in order to survive and eradicate John’s sins? We don’t know much other than what we see outside: it made them vulnerable. All of which is fine if these were the characters’ fore-thinking, but the film never seeks to explore Undine’s mindset. This makes the audience’s relationship between Undine and Christoph feel incredibly cold and distant because we don’t have access to their pure feelings for each other.
A typical example: Christoph gets into a life-threatening accident that endangers Undine. Then she has to kill Johannes, because the curse is on her again. In those moments of unadulterated agony, when Undine has to do the unthinkable in order to survive, we only have access to her external thoughts. External thoughts are only half of what the audience should understand of a character: they also need their internal thoughts to dress a full portrait of the same character’s feelings; otherwise the movie is just hollow and doesn’t really do much. Petzold believes he is doing something really great by only implicitly letting his main characters share their external thoughts, but he forgets the most important part that makes the greatest protagonists in film history great: what they feel inside them. And he doesn’t have to present it explicitly. This can also be done implicitly. Undines mythological story is already told implicitly; Viewers with expert knowledge and / or pre-research on the subject could understand the film’s implicit message better than viewers who have no idea who Undine is or what the film is based on. For an audience unfamiliar with its mythical subjects, implicit messaging is the only way to get it all across. If I had been able to grasp the main plot points of the story without knowing much about Undine, Petzold would surely have been able to convey many of the inner thoughts of Undine and Christoph in the same way that he presents his subjects with indelible discretion.
Some might say that Undine is a film about feelings and that we should feel Undine and Christoph’s raw love for each other. Still, there’s never a moment when their relationship clicks or the audience says “Ah!” when there is a legitimate human connection between them. Undine isn’t human, so her interactions with Christoph are pretty unnatural. This is exacerbated in the scene where she listens to every version and cover of The Bee Gees. to survive after Christoph performed CPR to the beat of this song to revive them. The interaction she gets with Christoph isn’t necessarily human – but it feels terribly aloof and cold (as I mentioned earlier), which again is fine as she can’t exude any real human feelings. Undine, however, has feelings, as the opening scene of the film shows: She is angry about Johannes ’infidelity, so she must be feeling something inside.
This is UndineThe most frustrating part: it only shows us half of what we can fully see. Yes, Paula Beer and Franz Rogowski are excellent. I especially liked Rogowski when he woke up from his coma, awakened by Undine’s aura, only thinking of her. He utters a terrible, excruciating scream and looks for Undine – who seems to have disappeared from the earth. Unfortunately, Christoph’s willingness to find Undine is more interesting than the entire relationship because the film is progressing too quickly. Only runs 89 minutes Undine presents only the shell of an interesting film. It’s beautifully shot, yes, and features pretty compelling performances by two highly talented actors who, unfortunately, are made up in a terribly superficial synonym that doesn’t dare to fully bathe in Undine’s mythological story, and rather a terribly pedantic “Relationship Blossom” movie present. until it changes the tone drastically and becomes a tangled and shallow mess that never explores the characters’ inner conflicting feelings; the only ingredient that makes any drama really incredible. It’s a shame if you ask me.