‘Lorelei’ Review: A Rural Melodrama, Lost at Sea
In one of the most whimsical sequences of the melodrama “Lorelei”, the film’s protagonist, Wayland (Pablo Schreiber), dreams of his lover, Dolores (Jena Malone), on the beach. She beckons like a mermaid, beautiful until he gets closer. Then Dolores screams, turning into a monster. The image presents a clumsy metaphor and indicates the lack of imagination that hinders the literal drama.
At the start of the film, Wayland has just come out of a 15-year prison sentence. He returns home to rural Oregon, a world of dirty dive bars and biker gangs. This is also where Wayland met her first love, Dolores, who is now a single mother of three, without enough money and not enough social support.
The couple rekindles their romance, but Dolores is erratic, prone to mood swings, quick to accuse Wayland and his children of betrayal. Wayland is driven to become the stabilizing force of an entire family, a responsibility he doesn’t like.
As the first feature film director, director Sabrina Doyle demonstrates an ability to create an environment for her rural working class characters who feel specific and lived in. The sofas are never cleared of clutter, the paneled houses have been stained by too much heavy rains. Schreiber is imposing and tender, and Malone artfully plays her character of an overworked teenager, lost in the expectations of adulthood.
But Doyle shows less aptitude for creating memorable images or narrative impetus. His film traverses Wayland’s disillusionment, with conflicts that seem repetitive and dreams mired in self-awareness. The film strives to accurately portray the details of its character’s life, but its collection of studied impressions do not blend into a cohesive final portrayal.
Unclassified. Duration: 1 hour 51 minutes. In theaters and available to rent or purchase on Apple TV, Google Play, and other streaming platforms and pay TV operators.
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