Bookended by two genuinely excellent performances from Jena Malone and Pablo Schreiber, Lorelei is a simmering drama from writer/director Sabrina Doyle that examines the way love changes between two people over time. Schreiber plays Wayland, a convict fresh off a 15 year prison sentence, who heads for a halfway house where he hopes to start a new beginning. When Wayland’s high school love, Dolores (Jena Malone), comes back into the picture, he drops everything to move in with her and her three rambunctious children, all from different fathers. The relationship between Wayland and Dolores is very different than it once was—the two must determine if their love is strong enough to sustain their extensive time apart.
Even from their initial reunion, it is immediately clear that things between Wayland and Dolores have changed substantially. Flashbacks of their life together before prison are peppered throughout in glimmers of hopeful beauty. The fact that director Sabrina Doyle chooses to juxtapose these flashbacks against haunting moments of present-day differences is consistently impressive. They remain contextually fascinating, used sparingly and for the greatest emotional impact.
You see how much has changed since Wayland has been away, but conversely, how much has truly stayed the same. The working class politics and specific dialogue exude an aura of believability, complete with small town living and gossipy townsfolk. The kids at school say Dololores’ children should be on Jerry Springer. Wayland’s boss refers to junkies as “showing up here like ants at a picnic.” People in town talk trash about Dolores jumping on anything that movies once Wayland was incarcerated.
There’s a beauty here that dips into traditional romance occasionally. Your idea of a picture perfect couple certainly won’t be Dolores and Wayland; as Dolores says, they are just “a maid with 3 kids and an out of work felon.” They are so endearing and committed to trying to make things work that you can’t help get behind their romance. One hope the troubled couple can work things out. Even when the plot takes turns I wasn’t necessarily on board with, the authenticity and quiet drama (bolstered by Malone & Schrieber’s undeniable chemistry) kept me invested.
Lorelei screened at the Tribeca Film Festival, June 20th, 2021.