The movie ‘Lorelei’ directed and written by Sabrina Doyle.
This film allows viewers to see complex themes such as regret, love, second chances, and conversations dealing with self-identity. Doyle has taken aspects of her own life to provide the film with an authentic and relatable connection to those who come from blue-collar families. The movie ‘Lorelei’ begins with Wayland, who after 15 years, is released from prison. He soon reconnects with his high school girlfriend, Dolores, a single mother with three kids. As both characters progress, they are constantly reminded of the outcome of their choices, missed opportunities, and forgotten dreams. Viewers will be able to see the use of metaphoric symbolism in the development of each character as they go through different transformative moments of growth.
Our correspondent Rebecca Eugene spoke with Doyle to discuss the different elements and complexities seen throughout the film. Doyle shares takeaways fans and viewers may have while viewing and the importance of conversations currently happening in our society today.
‘Lorelei’ will be available on Friday, July 30, 2021. In select movie theaters in California, Oregon, Ohio, Minnesota, Michigan, Florida, and on-demand.
The Knockturnal: What are the characteristics that you hoped to showcase in Dolores as a single mom raising three kids?
Sabrina Doyle: What I admire about Dolores is that she’s tenacious and resilient and that she finds the strength to resurrect an old dream that she’d long put to rest. It sometimes bugs me in films when working-class characters are silent, stoic types. I love that Dolores is noisy and loud, that she has this ferocity about her and fights for what she wants. I think it’s also important to show mothers in movies as NOT saintly or Madonna-like, but as complex and as flawed as the next person. Moms don’t have to be perfect for us to root for them.
The Knockturnal: What was your thought process when deciding to put aspects of your personal life into a movie?
Sabrina Doyle: Well, this isn’t an autobiographical film, it’s a work of my imagination. What I did pull from my own life was the working-class milieu — I grew up in a blue-collar household and was a first-generation high school graduate. Growing up, I experienced the strain of not having enough money and having too many doors closed to you. It was important for me to set this story in a blue-collar family because I wanted LORELEI to be a corrective to what I see is a flattening of working-class characters in cinema. By focusing on the hardships of being poor — and this is often done with the best of intentions — filmmakers sometimes neglect their characters’ interiority and dream life. And, for me, the stories we tell ourselves are just as important as the external lives that we lead, and to leave that out of blue-collar stories is to deny those working-class characters’ dimensionality and depth. So I wanted to bring my perspective as someone who grew up working class and whose imagination was a place of sanctuary and endless possibility.
The Knockturnal: The ocean/water plays an important symbolic role throughout the movie. What is it meant to represent for the characters?
Sabrina Doyle: Water is the disruptive agent of change in this movie. It signifies the possibility of transformation and metamorphosis. The first image of the film is Dolores curled up underwater in the fetal position, gestating, waiting to be reborn. The sea, which calls to her throughout the film, is always in motion. Even where you see stagnant water in the film (the puddle Wayland steps into, for example), it ripples and forebodes change. So water represents the inevitability of change — and the creative possibilities we discover once we open ourselves up to that inevitability. I like narrative bookends, and towards the end of the film you see Dolores underwater again, like the beginning of the movie. But she’s different now, changed. She’s become Lorelei.
The Knockturnal: While fans and viewers watch this movie, what do you hope they will take away from this film?
Sabrina Doyle: I hope they feel compassion for each and every character in the film because I tried to depict everyone without judgment. Schopenhauer said compassion was the basis of morality, and I think we’re all so polarized and judgmental of each other right now that we could use some more compassion in our world. So maybe, after watching LORELEI, you’ll give someone who needs it a break, a second chance. I also hope people appreciate the tremendous acting work done by Pablo and Jena, along with our three young newcomers, Chancellor, Amelia, and Parker. I’m so proud of the performances in this film.
The Knockturnal: The film ‘Lorelei’ has a strong lesson of second chances and forgiveness. Are these lessons aspects from your own personal life?
Sabrina Doyle: I feel that in our social media-driven, success-driven society we don’t talk about our failures enough. And for people from hard-up backgrounds, we may not achieve our dreams right away. We may take a longer, more circuitous route. But most people who’ve grown up poor are resilient and resourceful. Not that this is a substitute for systemic change — which, of course, is urgently needed — but let’s take a moment to celebrate the persistence and creativity of hard-up folks. And yes, in my life, I’ve had many second chances. Even during the making and distribution of LORELEI. We were supposed to have our world premiere at Tribeca in 2020 — a dream come true for a small indie like ours. Then, with weeks to go, it got canceled because of COVID-19, and we were, of course, heartbroken. But we got our second chance. LORELEI world premiered at the Deauville American Film Festival, where Vanessa Paradis awarded us the Jury Prize. And we finally made it to Tribeca in June (they graciously invited all the canceled 2020 films to screen at the 2021 festival). It’s important to believe in and grant second chances — because they give us cause to hope. And hope is the fuel of humanity.
The Knockturnal: Denim’s character represents an important topic in society today when discussing LGBTQIA+ youth. What message were you trying to get across to the viewers?
Sabrina Doyle: Denim — who in real life is played by a non-binary actor and in the story is described as a boy who likes to wear girls’ clothes — is simply a child in need of love. Still in the process of figuring out their identity, for sure. And I wanted to give them a role model in the form of Coral, the besequinned trans hostess at the end of the movie, who encourages Denim to “keep rocking those dresses.” I think it’s so important in life to affirm children’s choices and interests. And Wayland does that too when Denim plays iSpy with him, and the letter is Z, and Wayland figures out that the Z stands for the zig-zags on Denim’s dress.
The Knockturnal: Many films tend to shy away from tackling the topic of children who don’t subscribe to traditional gender roles. Why do you think it was important for this film to address gender performance among young children and what statement do you think the film makes about heteronormativity and the gender binary?”
Sabrina Doyle: There was another film at Tribeca this year called COWBOYS about a trans boy who dreams of being a cowboy, so I feel that actually, it’s becoming more common. With LORELEI, I wanted to help normalize gender fluidity and celebrate individualized expressions of gender. Gender non-conformity definitely comes up as a hot button issue in one scene in which Dolores worries about Denim getting bullied. Trans youth are twice as likely to be taunted or mocked for their gender identity than lesbian, gay, or bisexual young people are for their sexual identity. And we know that parents who support their kid’s gender expression often face repercussions too, especially in lower-income settings. So this is all present in LORELEI, especially in this one, heart-wrenching scene. But Denim to me is ultimately a complex, flesh and blood character — not a poster child for a topic or issue.