Apart from a weirdly metaphysical ending which had me scratching my hand in what-was-that bewilderment, Lorelei is a tender gentle hard hitting and searing drama about two fractured lives trying desperately to come together again, if not as Man and Wife then at least as a compatible couple.
It’s a rare film that shows a relationship after it has officially ended. Most romances are situated in that cosy area inhabited by people in love while they are in love.The terrible aftermath is seldom explored. In Lorelei, when Wayland returns to his hometown after serving time, he is uncertain of the future. That uncertainty we soon realise is what makes this film stand out.
When Wayland runs into Dolores, old memories are re-kindled, wounds that never healed are re-opened.
“We had a life together and then you just went away,” Dolores says without a trace of accusation in her voice. So all right, shit happens in life. The trick is to pick up the broken pieces and mend the bridges.
Easier said than done. Dolores is now the mother of three demanding children.The eldest, a daughter, is that age when teenagers are into drugs and boys. Trouble is, Mom too is trapped there. Dolores has bills to pay and duties to fulfil which she isn’t quite up to.
Wayland fits the bill. The kids begin to lean on him. Inept as she is, the mother in Dolores resents and revolts at Wayland’s place in her children’s life.
Lorelei, from the outside, seems like a cliché-riddled film about a rekindled romance. But underneath the rites of rectifying the wrong, this is a film with deep undercurrents of empathy and compassion. The drama works so well because writer-director Sabrina Doyle understands her protagonists better than they understand one another.
The two actors Pablo Schreiber and Jena Malone, playing people rediscovering one another are so pitch-perfect, they seem to inhabit characters that were written for them alone. Neither Wayland nor Dolores is anywhere close to being the ideal partner that they crave to find. What makes them so irresistible is their flaws. Fractured and damaged, this couple is determined to wade through the heartbreaks of life without forsaking their dreams, at least some of them.
The supporting cast is also strong on conviction. The camera (Stephen Paar) captures the ethos of a small town in Oregon that has long abandoned the American Dream. But dammit, there are shreds of desire still in there waiting to come out. It can’t be helped.
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