Though I’m taking a sabbatical from film reviewing, I’m still watching movies. And I’ve just reached a milestone: 4,000 theatrically released feature films. Of course, it’s impossible for any individual to know the exact number of films he or she has watched during a lifetime. But I’ve done my best. And my feature lists now contain 4,000 ratings. (If you add shorts, and features that never received a theatrical release, that number is closer to 7,000, but that’s another topic for another time.)

So what’s my 4,000th film? It’s the German-language fantasy-romance Undine (2 ¼ stars on 0-5 scale). And, fittingly, I saw it last night at my favorite arthouse cinema: the Enzian Theater in Maitland, Florida. Released last year in Europe, the movie is now getting a limited release in the United States. Seemingly inspired by both Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water and the myth of the aquatic undines, the film is helmed by one of the more imaginative directors working in Germany today, Christian Petzold. But, disappointingly, Undine is a step backwards from or – more metaphorically appropriate – below his last film, Transit. Both films star Franz Rogowski and Paula Beer, but, in Undine, their talents (especially Rogowski’s) play second fiddle to the movie’s slow-burn plot, lugubrious pacing and fantastical elements. I’ll let you discover the story’s particulars on your own, suffice to say that, for me, Undine is undone by its vagueness and tedium.

As I continue my break from film criticism, I wish you an enjoyable summer.

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