In one of the more fictionalized scenes in the melodrama “Lorelei”, the film’s protagonist, Wayland (Pablo Schreiber), dreams of her boyfriend, Dolores (Jenna Malone), on the beach. She looks pretty like a mermaid until he gets closer. Then Dolores screams, becoming a monster. The image presents a ham-handed metaphor, and is indicative of a lack of imagination that hinders literal-minded play.
When the movie begins, Wayland has just been released from a 15-year prison sentence. He returns home to rural Oregon, a world of dirty dive bars and motorcycle gangs. It was here that Wayland met his first love, Dolores, now a single mother of three children, with neither enough money nor enough social support.
The pair rekindle their romance, but Dolores is uncertain, prone to mood swings, quick to accuse Wayland and her children of betrayal. Wayland insists on becoming a stabilizing force for the entire family, a responsibility he resists.
As a first-time feature film producer, director Sabrina Doyle has demonstrated her ability to create an environment for rural, working-class characters that feels distinctive and alive. Sofas are never clear of clutter, wood-paneled homes tend to rain heavily. Schreiber is hulking and gentle, and Malone cleverly plays up his character as an overloaded teen who is lost in the expectations of adulthood.
But Doyle displays less dexterity with creating memorable images or narrative motion. His film delves through Wayland’s disillusionment, with struggles that feel repetitive and dreams that are steeped in self-consciousness. The film is invested in accurately portraying the details of its character’s life, but the collection of studied impressions does not add up to a coherent final picture.
not evaluated. Running time: 1 hour 51 minutes. Available to rent or buy in theaters and on Apple TV, Google Play and other streaming platforms and pay TV operators.