Pablo Schreiber makes the most of a rare leading man turn as a biker and ex-con who dives into an instant family with “Lorelei.”
Schrieber (“Orange is the New Black,” “Den of Thieves,” “13 Hours”) is playing yet another tough guy, and with the right haircut and stubble, he’s as “biker” as they come. But here he plays a biker sentimental enough to want to recapture the great love of his pre-prison life, and sensitive enough to try and make it work, despite the long odds.
Wayland just did 15 years, giving up most of his youth for “not squealing” on his Night Horsemen brethren. They come to pick him up when he gets out, take him drinking and laud his sacrifice. But the Lutheran pastor (Trish Egan) who runs the halfway house he checks into in his corner of the Pacific Northwest gives him the simplest warning — “They’re trouble.”
Another sign of trouble? Running into lithe blonde Dolores (Jena Malone) at her support group meeting.
She’s picking up charity food donations for her family. No shame in that.
But she’s stuck with an ancient, battered Chevy Nova for a ride, movie shorthand for “bad judgement.” She’s wearing a lot of ink, and in the most personal places.
She has children. And if Wayland’s warning bells don’t go off when he hears their names, ours do. “Denim Blue” is the youngest, “Periwinkle Blue” is the responsible one and “Dodger Blue” is the oldest. Any woman who would name her kids that doesn’t need to tell us she doesn’t know all of their fathers.
A single visit to a roadhouse, where they’re too broke to have more than a drink or two, hits the reset button. They lose themselves in their youth, when he was a 20something hustler trying to get something going and she was a star high school swimmer, begging him to take her to LA.
As they tumble into bed and into a relationship, the forks in their road together are revisited, Wayland’s crime is uncovered and Dolores starts to come out as rash, impulsive and barely suitable to baby sit her kids, much less raise them.
That’s a hard thing to realize AFTER you’ve moved in with somebody.
First-time feature writer-director Sabrina Doyle makes the most of this hardly-working class milieu, the bars and the sorts of jobs available to an ex-con, the limitations of a low income future that “ex-con” status dictates.
The script rounds out Wayland’s life with work, family loss, the cost of ignoring that pastor’s advice and the pressures of a new “family,” money, old ties and a probation officer who’s just waiting for him to screw up.
Malone (“Antebellum,” “Batman vs. Superman: The Dawn of Justice”) makes Dolores more than just a collection of stereotypes. We can see the nostalgia that’s playing in Wayland’s decisions working on her, too. Our leads do an excellent job of keeping us guessing about who “impulse control issues” half of the couple will screw up next.
There’s little here we haven’t seen before, with the novel moment here and there, and worn out tropes (getting pulled back into biker drug-dealing) played down, and easy “answers” (A new business opportunity?) tripped up.
But Schreiber and Malone leave it all on the set in this sad but wistful romance, a movie about teen dreams that lose all meaning if they’re deferred too long.
MPA Rating: unrated, some violence, drug content, sex, profanity
Cast: Pablo Schreiber, Jena Malone, Ryan Findley, Trish Egan, Chancellor Perry,
Parker Pascoe-Sheppard and Amelia Borgerding
Credits: Scripted and directed by Sabrina Doyle. A Vertical release.
Running time: 1:51