For all the minor creepiness Undine pulls from its inspiration (including some striking underwater shots), it also inherits a certain simplicity of plotting and one-note characterization. Yet I still wouldn’t hesitate for a second to recommend the film, because it’s been made with the superb economy of pacing, shot selection, and editing that’s become a Petzold specialty, nay a trademark.
What are people saying?
What are critics saying?
The Hollywood Reporter by Boyd van Hoeij
Beer and Rogowski are so good, and have such amazing chemistry, that it’s hard to look away or not root for them to be together.
Slant Magazine by Christopher Gray
The film questions the fixed nature of human behavior in a world whose borders are constantly shifting.
Petzold remains a master of capturing frantic characters doomed by dark obsessions, and while Undine is certainly a minor work, it still shows evidence of a master’s hand.
Its disquieting moments of magical realism paired with the all-consuming romance shared between Undine and Christoph — which feels as grand and tragic as the best cinematic love stories — add some warmth to Undine‘s chilly, cosmic exterior.
Petzold’s unsettling film is awash with wonderful ambiguities and strives to challenge both its audience and filmmaking conventions. They’re incomparable and largely succeed through their independent nuances.
Petzold’s lean, crisply-shot tale is a deft shape-changer, switching mood and register, interlacing romance with suspense and sudden jabs of humour.
The Guardian by Peter Bradshaw
It is possible to come away from the film less than convinced, but very impressed by the sheer force of Petzold’s film-making talent (recently so stunning in his drama Transit) but which has been here deployed for something which is a bit flimsy and silly.
There’s a stylistic and narrative elegance to Petzold’s approach, with its clean lensing and repeated use of a single piece of music (the rolling piano Adagio from Bach’s Concerto in D Minor, BWV 974), that suggests restraint, where a queer filmmaker might have propelled things into camp territory. In a way, it’s a shame that Undine stops short, since the material feels thin, and the statement as murky as the lake to which the camera ultimately returns.
The Film Stage by Rory O'Connor
In taking a centuries-old piece of mythology as its source material, Undine ultimately forgoes the inventiveness and sensuality of its first half by slipping into relatively bland predictability. And for a filmmaker who thrives on disregarding narrative conventions, it feels a fatal error. “Relatively” is the key here. This is still Petzold after all, if not peak Petzold.