Ondines were ancient beings of European mythology, mostly female inhabitants of water features at the margin of human settlement, born without an immortal soul and inclined to hook up with one of our sort in order to acquire one. Woe betide this chosen mate if they were to subsequently stray.
In a manner somewhat akin to Bustamante's La Llorona, Christian Petzold superimposes this mythology onto a more contemporary fantastical drama.
Some are perhaps going to find this a little flimsy, as it lacks the gravitas immediately lent by the underlying theme of genocide, but we really enjoyed this movie. For it felt like being approached by someone who unexpectedly starts a dialogue in a dialect familiar from youth, an idiom to which one has become unaccustomed.
Before Cannes was hijacked by all the provocateurs, this is what many European flicks of yesteryear felt like: whimsical, perhaps even gently mystical, a blend of light and dark where neither quite predominates.
Kieslowski it isn't, but it felt compelling from beginning to end, especially as it was hard to tell which ways its waters were flowing.