Sabrina Doyle’s feature debut, the blue-collar dramatic love story Lorelei, is not perfect. It takes a while to find its pacing, and some of the dialogue is a bit stilted. It’s prone to over-sentimentality, particularly evident in its strained, country-ballad-scored lovemaking scene. Frequent artsy dream interludes, though ultimately culminating in a worthy pay-off, clash with an otherwise unpretentious filmmaking style. But the film’s ambition and honesty, along with its despondent and lyrical mood, will linger with you long after the credits roll. In fact, akin to its hapless heroes, it’s those very flaws that accentuate Lorelei’s raw beauty.
Overwhelmed by freedom after serving 15 years for armed robbery, Wayland (Pablo Schreiber) tries to let go and party with his biker friends. Wayland’s halfway house is a church with a curfew and a set of rules, gently enforced by the amicable Pastor Gail (Trish Egan) – perhaps the kindest parole officer in cinematic history. It doesn’t take long for Wayland to reconnect with his high school sweetheart, Dolores (Jena Malone).
“…after serving 15 years for armed robbery, Wayland tries…to reconnect with his high school sweetheart…”
Things have changed in the intervening years. Dolores is a single mother of three. “You’ve been busy,” he tells her. Both broke and living on society’s fringes, they instantly reestablish a long-lost connection, different now though it is. “I already spent all my money,” he tells her when asked to come out. “So let me buy you a drink,” she responds, although she barely has a dollar to her name. Their first date involves gambling (of sorts) for beer cash.
He stays over at her ramshackle house and meets her children. It’s all too fast, too soon, and he escapes right before dinner is served. Although the temptation to resort to a life of crime looms nearby, Wayland does his best to avoid it. He sells his blood and eventually secures a job at the local junkyard through his friend Violet (Dana Millican).
What happened to Wayland and Dolores’s dreams of moving to Los Angeles to watch the sun set and rise over Sunset Boulevard? Dolores is far from the innocent girl he met in high school. In fact, her reputation around town leaves much to be desired. Wayland’s friend Bobbi (Lynn Sher) doesn’t even want to hear the name Dolores in her house (“As soon as you got locked up, she was humping anything with a heartbeat.”). Even the saintly Pastor Gail cheekily comments, “If there’s one thing she doesn’t need, it’s more babies.”