Christian Petzold’s ‘Undine’ is based on the fairy tale that I have honestly never heard of. In the fable, a water nymph falls in love with a mortal, and she herself becomes human. However, if he falls in love with someone else, she has to revert back to hat she was before. In the opening scene of Petzold’s film, a man and a woman is trying to be uncoupled in a café. When he threatens to leave, Undine, the woman says, “If you leave me, I would have to kill you.”
Much more happens to Undine, played here with extreme care by Paula Beers. Shortly after that scene, Undine meets another man, Christoph (Franz Rogowski) and a delicate and complicated dance of love ensues. The story and sequences do veer on the ‘weird’ side of things at times, but the chemistry between the two leads is palpable, and you get swept in their story, and do kind of root for their relationship to succeed. But of course, nothing in Petzold’s films are ever what they seem, and I will stop speaking now and won’t give any spoilers. But this is a truly engrossing film – you will find yourself in the middle of the maze and will come out gasping for air. If that floats your boat, then sail on.