The new film by Christian Petzold (Transit, Phoenix, Barbara) is a bittersweet romance that reinterprets the curse of the European mythological figure, Undine.
Synopsis: 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.
The film is set in contemporary Berlin. Petzold uses this setting to reimagine this myth of a nymph who is cursed to go back to the water should her lover leave or reject her. In Petzold’s reimagining, we see Undine (Paula Beer) more in control of her choices after she is dumped by her boyfriend Johannes (Jacob Matschenz).
As if by fate, she meets Christoph (Franz Rogowski) after he joins one of her tours on Berlin’s architectural history. Due to a clumsy accident, they literally fall for each other. She choose Christoph as her new love interest.
From here, Petzold places into a modern fairytale, so to speak. We experience many moments with Christoph and Undine; underwater and on land. All quite deliberate. Just when we believe this romance will blossom, something happens, and in fairytale fashion, things turn upside down.
There is plenty to appreciate in Undine. Petzold use of actual underwater shots, quiet moments between Undine and Christoph, among other locations all come together to create a world these lovers can inhabit. Excellent cinematography by Hans Fromm evokes mood, space and time quite beautifully. Hear more of my thoughts below.
Undine is now available to stream on all major platforms.