Film Review: Undine (2020)- Germany / France [HKIFF45]
Reviewed as part of 45th Hong Kong International Film Festival 2021 by Andrew Chan (Film Critics Circle of Australia)
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There is a lot of problems with Silver Bear winning director of “Barbara” - Christian Petzold’s latest work “Undine”. As the title suggest, the film involves frequent water sequences and allergy on water and diving. At the journey, “Undine” remains one of Petzold’s much lesser work as it is rather pointless and the happenings seem far too illogical for any emotions to be involved. How lead actress Paula Beer managed to win the Silver Bear for best actress remains more bewildering than the film itself.
Paula Beer (who also starred in Petzold’s far superior film - Transit”) teams up with co-romantic lead Franz Rogowski once again. Beer plays a freelance historian who specialise in Berlin history on infrastructure is far more interested in fledging romances. The chemistry between Beer and Rogowski who plays a commercial diver works to a degree and the film could have been better off focusing on the romance and relationship dynamics than going haywire with the runs of events. When tragedy happens, it simply happens without much emotions or thoughts. This perhaps undermines something deeper that Director Petzold may be aiming at. Jacob Matschenz appears in a few scenes as the cheating lover, before being taken off screen altogether.
All in all, “Undine” is the kind of film where some moments are better than the sum of its parts. It doesn’t work entirely and doesn’t fail miserably, but for a director of Petzold’s calibre, one cannot be faulted for expecting a lot more. In his best films, “Barbara” and “Transit”, Petzold will take the audience on the journey and keep them there, but this film fails to connect and ends up losing the audience.
I rated it 6/10