LORELEI: A “For Better Or For Worse” Love Story

In film, we love a story about second chances. Is there anything more universally human than rediscovering the self, making up for time lost, or reinventing your path in life? In Lorelei, the hope for a second chance meets a grounding and heartwrenching love story. The result is a raw example of hope, potential, and the connections that make growth possible.

Lorelei is the feature debut of director Sabrina Doyle and stars Pablo Schreiber (Orange is the New Black) and Jena Malone (The Hunger Games: Catching Fire). The film had been meant to enjoy its World Premiere at the 2020 Tribeca Film Festival but was delayed due to the COVID-19 outbreak’s sweeping impact on the entertainment industry. Down, but not out, the circumstances surrounding the film only add greater power to this narrative of dreams delayed but realized, and second chances.

In Lorelei, Wayland (Schreiber) has just been released from prison after serving a 15-year sentence. He finds his way back into the life of his high school sweetheart, Dolores (Malone), and becomes a somewhat reluctant father figure to her three children. As the pair struggle to make ends meet, ghosts from the past haunt them both and they must make a choice. Do they look back at the simple ideals of their lost youth, or make a break for a stable future?

The Star-crossed Lovers

Wayland and Dolores are as classic as it gets when it comes to tragic romantic figures. Their love was born out of youth and potential, when they were younger with plans of escaping their normal life. Both of them had their youth and all the hopes for their lives and each other snatched away. Wayland went to prison. Dolores became a young, unwed mother.

Lorelei Tribeca 2020 review
Lorelei (2020) – source: Visit Films

However, it’s not what they share that makes them an interesting couple but the different places they are in, when they reconnect. No doubt, both of them have been broken by harsh reality but Wayland is on the rise as Dolores is on her way down. Wayland has already been given his second chance. He is out of prison and will be able to decide from this moment on what his path will be. Dolores has been doing her best, but the strain of years of struggling is finally wearing on her.

The desperation of their love truly defines the “for better or for worse” aspect of romance. This is not a story about rescue, nor a fairytale where the hero gets the girl and the princess is swept off her feet. This is the vulnerability of intimacy versus the brutal blows of hard work. It’s about making love grow in an unforgiving environment.

All In The Details

The performances of Schreiber and Malone are the lifeblood of Lorelei. The chemistry between the two is arresting and heartwrenching. Schreiber, especially, delivers an incredible performance. The entire film is a masterclass in film craftsmanship as the details make this piece. The film uses beautiful cinematography of water, to ground the entire piece. Water represents escape, renewal, fantasy, and its dreamlike presence is a baptism for all the characters.

Lorelei Tribeca 2020 review
source: Visit Films

The character of Wayland is a refreshing exploration of masculinity. He reluctantly becomes the father figure of the three children and, in many ways, becomes the one steady place in their life. While there is no doubt that Lorelei is a love story, in the case of Wayland it is not his relationship with Dolores that saves him. Wayland finds his path and purpose out of the desire to do right by these three children. His hardened biker gang past is softened out of necessity and, quite beautifully, Lorelei turns this redemption tale into one of the sweetest on-screen portrayals of fatherhood.

The Siren’s Song

The crux of Lorelei is moving beyond lost opportunity and the pursuit to realize your dreams. It may not happen on the timeline you wished for, it may not be the version that you hoped for. Dolores sits at the center as a siren song to Wayland. He can join her in a bright future or possibly be dragged back down to the bottom. While the call of a seductive force seems an ineffable thing, that’s not what’s happening in Lorelei. The call is out there, but you can take it by the hand and lead it in the direction that you want to go.

Lorelei is compelling and heart-wrenching, with emotional intelligence and sophistication that strikes deep. A beautiful film with truly impressive chemistry out of the leads. Well done.

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