Review: “Wander Darkly”

What was, what is, and what could have been—these things and more are explored in the metaphysical wanderings of Adrienne (Sienna Miller) following a traumatic accident. A new mother whose relationship with her boyfriend and daughter’s father Matteo (Diego Luna) is on the rocks, Adrienne re-experiences their love story—its high points, low points, and everything in between—from a new perspective. This is the basis of writer and director Tara Miele’s film “Wander Darkly.”

Matteo (Diego Luna) and Adrienne (Sienna Miller) in “Wander Darkly”

“Wander Darkly” is weird, though not in a wholly unique way. The jumping back and forth through time, the out of body conversations, and the literal wandering from one moment into another as a way of examining a relationship has been done before, and arguably better (think “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”). Where “Wander Darkly” most falls short is its script. A lot of Adrienne and Matteo’s dialogue feels too on the nose and tends to over-explain what’s happening onscreen in a frustratingly obvious way. And as we get farther into the film, the film gets farther into itself, becoming a bit too muddled for its own good.

But “Wander Darkly” also possesses many merits that make it worth watching. The performances from both Miller and Luna feel very real. We understand their characters’ attraction, experience their joy, and ache at their differences that threaten to pull them apart. But as Adrienne’s journey demonstrates, she and Matteo are soul mates, and no matter how bad things get, they can’t be separated that easily. While Tiele tells the story primarily from Adrienne’s point of view, Matteo is given ample time to express himself as well, giving the viewer a well-rounded idea of how both of them contributed to the problems in their relationship. “Wander Darkly” is not an easy watch, and its full of heartbreak, particularly when Adrienne experiences a future they will never have. Her journey—as we realize by the film’s conclusion—is her way of processing loss. And Matteo is given the opportunity to mourn their past and their future with her.

As melancholy as “Wander Darkly” is, and as messy a film as it can sometimes be, Tiele brings it to a satisfying conclusion that manages to find joy, hope, and closure amidst the pain.

“Wander Darkly” will be released in select theaters and on demand Friday, December 11. Runtime: 97 minutes. Rated R.

Media review screener courtesy Lionsgate.

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