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LORELEI: 3 ½ STARS. “story of second chances with an endearing ending.”

A gritty story of second chances, “Lorelei,” starring Jena Malone and Pablo Schreiber and now on VOD, pulls career high performances from its veteran leads.

Schreiber plays Wayland, a biker fresh out of prison after a fifteen-year stint for armed robbery. He kept his mouth shut, didn’t implicate any of his brothers and is welcomed warmly back into the fold. But the next day when he reconnects with Lola (Malone), his childhood sweetheart, he sees a way out of his old life.

They reconnect over drinks, and soon Wayland moves in with Lola and her three kids, Demin (Parker Pascoe-Sheppard), Dodger (Chancellor Perry) and Periwinkle (Amelia Borgerding), all named after different shades of blue. “Time goes fast,” she says. “Not in prison,” he replies. His readjustment into civilian life is rocky, despite his best efforts at holding a job and parenting Lola’s kids.

Money is tight and the lure of his old ways looms and as tensions rise at home, Lola attempts to fulfill a dream they had when they were young. Before prison. Before the kids. Before life’s curveballs.

“Lorelei” could easily have fallen into stereotypes, but director Sabrina Doyle avoids poverty porn to provide an authentic portrait of people struggling to keep their heads above water. The entire movie is on simmer, threatening to boil over at any moments, but the chaotic chemistry Malone and Schreiber keep the relationship interesting. Completing the picture are very strong performances from the kids, all newcomers, who provide the film’s best reason to care about the action on screen. Issues of gender identity and race within the children are handled with sensitivity and realism.

“Lorelei” was produced by the folks behind “The Florida Project,” another slice-of-life movie, ripe with struggle and strife. Like that Oscar nominated film, it shifts from pragmatism to whimsy in the third act, capping the gritty story of second chances with an endearing ending.

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