Following a 15-year prison sentence, ex-con Wayland (Pablo Schreiber) returns to his home town to find life has changed during his time away. Though he tries, he can’t simply pick up where he left off. Just a week into his life at a halfway house and helping the pastor with chores around the church, Wayland unexpectedly crosses paths with his old flame, Dolores (Jena Malone). The two seem like they might pick up right where they left off. Or at least that’s what Wayland thinks until Dolores reveals she has three children, all with different fathers and all named after different shades of blue.
Upon meeting the family and their organized chaos, Wayland is overwhelmed and less than charmed by the kids though that quickly shifts as the movie progresses. Directed and written by Sabrina Doyle, Lorelei shows the raw reality of what it is to return to a life after prison without taking the same tired paths as other films on the topic often do. Wayland is faced with not only reintegrating himself back into small town life, but also finds himself quickly becoming a father figure to Dolores’ three kids: Dodger, Periwinkle, and Denim. It’s a turn of events that force him to make some hard choices, but ultimately causes significant character growth in a short period of time.
Opposite Wayland is Dolores, who struggles to make ends meet while holding down a part time job as a maid at a local motel. Lorelei shines a light on her reality, showing how difficult it can be if even $30 is lost the day before a child’s birthday. The day to day struggles of the working class are highlighted in a special way in this film. Dolores is struggling to do her best, but it’s clear Wayland’s return makes her long for younger, carefree days.
Schreiber and Malone have undeniable chemistry and give masterful performances as emotions run high throughout the film. We easily feel the first hopeful reconnection then the awkward moments between Wayland and Dolores as they settle into a new normal. Dolores’ relationship with her children is also affected as they warm to Wayland’s presence. There are some must mention moments, including the knock down drag out between Dolores and 12-year-old Periwinkle (Amelia Borgerding) which has serious consequences for the family. Malone and Borgerding’s raw emotion in that scene is absolutely gut-wrenching. Schreiber has us rooting for Wayland to succeed in his new role as boyfriend and surrogate father while also facing regular parole meetings and unexpected financial obstacles.
The story will draw you in with its attention to detail and refreshing focus on the future rather than the details of their past. Dolores’ love of water and recurring dreams of the ocean are pulled into the realities of the film in spots which only serve to enhance the plot lines as the story develops. Lorelei culminates in a beautiful and uplifting ending, a moment surprisingly filled with hope and the potential for family and for happiness.
Lorelei was set to make its world debut in the U.S. Narrative Competition at the 2020 Tribeca Film Festival prior to the festival’s decision to postpone.