Title: The Lorelei
Genre: Action/Thriller, Mystery, Horror, Fantasy, Drama
Production: Onview Films
Directors/Writers: Mol Smith
Stars: Kemal Yildirim, Lorie-Lanie Shanks, Sophie Townsend » See full cast & crew at IMDB
This is your shadow on my wall
~ “I Have Not Been to Oxford Town” by Bowie/Eno from Outside
The legendary Lorelei is a dark enchantress who lures fisherman and sailors to their death. In geography she is a steep rock over 4oo feet high on the bank of the Rhine river.
Her legend survives in countless songs and stories. So Mol Smith’s The Lorelei continues a long tradition of blending feminine beauty, danger and death—in French and in the arts, she’s la femme fatale.
From the opening frames of this Indie film, set and shot around Oxford, I knew I would enjoy it. But not just because the story takes place at Oxford.
After a scenic introduction, The Lorelei quickly moves into a well-paced murder mystery. Holy smokes, the British are good at that, aren’t they?
Canadians have been watching British TV murders for years. Like Rock and Roll, the Brits have a knack for murder mystery. And director Mol Smith is no exception. Smith is actually based in Oxford, and it shows.
I don’t want to write a spoiler. And regurgitating story lines can be tedious, like a high-school project I’d rather avoid. On the plus side, holistic thinkers like me often pick up on things outside the main plot line.
So let’s just say there’s a murder at the outset and a supernatural element adds to the mystery. But that’s only the beginning.
Enter the affluent victim’s daughter, a private detective, a cop, along with a Madame and her “girls” who fund their education by selling sexual services.
The main characters’ lives intertwine with several twists and turns that, if outlined here, would ruin the film. But I will comment on the performances.
Mel Mills (Martin) and Tessa McGinn (Elizabeth) also appear in the Mol Smith’s Abduction. I enjoyed Abduction on a metaphysical level but for me The Lorelei is far more immediate. And the interaction between Martin and Elizabeth seems more real and grounded.
Mills and McGinn also make a bold statement that so many millennials just don’t get: Seasoned and mature individuals can be just as sneaky, sexual and sexy as anyone else.
I liked this aspect of the film. Our contemporary “script” for normality implies that middle-aged people should behave like stale bread or sour wine. No sexual attractions nor thoughts. Just turn it all off.
Thankfully, Madonna, David Bowie, Leonard Cohen and a few other celebrities have shown that, for most creative people, that’s a sham. And repressing rather than expressing, redirecting or maybe transmuting sexuality usually turns out badly. If anything, repression leads to stagnant, judgmental and potentially abusive personalities.
So I give The Lorelei full marks for representing its mature characters as full human beings, and not just as packages past their shelf life, as many folks – young and old – tend to see it.
Ageism sucks. And it rarely hits the radar these days.
As for the younger actors in this film, I find them charming. Sophie Townsend plays Sarah, a luminous young woman making her way through uni, as the Brits say, by taking clients on the side.
Sarah could be in an early Beatlemania film. Or maybe she reminds me of a young, female incarnation of David Bowie. I don’t know. But something about her spirited demeanor and slightly retro look won me over.
Lorie-Lanie Shanks as Rebecca comes out strong, fulfilling that “rich English babe” stereotype to a tee. Rebecca seems to have an ambiguous sexual preference, which only adds to the uneasy tension between her and Sarah.
Shanks would be perfect in an Agatha Christie movie. Murder on the Orient Express, Fantasy Island, or something like that. That highbrow woman with a poisonous snake in a wicker box for anyone who crosses her.
Kemal Yildirim, also in Abduction, plays the private detective Daniel with a characteristic depth and detachment that invites viewers to wonder what’s going on inside his head. Daniel’s low key ambience is captivating. We can never really know what the quietly intelligent gent is thinking.
Likewise, the alluring Hive Queen in Abduction, Amelie Leroy, appears as “Trouble” in The Lorelei. Leroy’s deceptive character effortlessly switches back and forth among English, French and maybe something else. Trouble charges up the film with loads of presence, awareness and jungle-edged sexuality.
So we have a supernaturally tinged mystery, enigmatic leading characters and a solid supporting cast. Together, they forge an unforgettable foray into the fictional underbelly of Oxford life.
At least, those on the outside must assume it is fictional. From what I’ve seen in the far corners of student life, there might be more truth to this fiction than most are willing to admit.
“We don’t get murders in Oxford, you get it?” exclaims Martin. It’s all about image. Elitism. High class. And sex workers? That would certainly rub most Oxford Deans the wrong way.
The Lorelei, true to its name, busts the myth and does so very well. Along with its great, gooey makeup art and delightful soundtrack, this is a film to absorb on many levels.
All Images © Onview Films UK. Used with permission.