wed 21/04/2021

Wander Darkly review - bold psychodrama falls short | reviews, news & interviews

Wander Darkly review - bold psychodrama falls short

Wander Darkly review - bold psychodrama falls short

Sienna Miller gives a strong performance but it’s a weak story and the tension is forced

Sienna Miller and Diego Luna in 'Wander Darkly'

Like the sun-happy LA of this film’s setting, there’s a hard-to-pinpoint sham quality to Wander Darkly. It feels like too much phoney dialogue crept in to the final script of this “serious” film by writer-director Tara Miele.

Like the sun-happy LA of this film’s setting, there’s a hard-to-pinpoint sham quality to Wander Darkly. It feels like too much phoney dialogue crept in to the final script of this “serious” film by writer-director Tara Miele. Sienna Miller is a formidable centrepiece in the drama about a couple forced to review their relationship history after a car crash. But she is held down by a story that feels like it was clipped together in a rush.

Adrienne (Miller) and Matteo (Diego Luna) are in an unmarried relationship with a young child, and they’re struggling. Adrienne is in and out of creative jobs and Matteo can’t quite bring in enough as a labourer. They argue over the usual things. Adrienne is angry with Matteo for forgetting a date night, and Matteo feels that Adrienne is behaving unfaithfully. Then, driving home from a party arguing, they get into a horrific car crash.

Adrienne has an out of body experience in which she sees her dead self in the hospital and attends her own funeral. She struggles to piece the facts of her life together. Although Matteo can talk to her and convinces her that she has survived, Adrienne still doubts that she is alive.Wander Darkly 2To help solve the problem, Matteo and Adrienne agree to review their past together. Here the film takes its shape. Miele uses the technique of placing Adrienne and Matteo into their memories, having them argue over what happened as the flashbacks play themselves out. Each person remembers a different version of events. What they thought they knew about each other shifts. Slowly, truth and lies unravel.

The premise is attractive but the complex ideas involved are executed poorly. In place of nuanced psychodrama the flashback scenes are clichéd: the romantic first meeting, the first big argument, a supposed infidelity. This is writing lifted from the generic mush of Hollywood melodrama. No unique contribution to see on this front.

Ultimately, Adrienne and Matteo are not compelling characters. They are both a little shallow and a little frustrating, so we don’t always feel alongside them. They undergo couples issues that a simple apology or admission would solve, yet neither person can muster the courage because of their immature pride and because the story seems desperate to force tension at every possible moment.

The intrigue (or flaw, depending on how you look at it) is the fact that you never really know what kind of film this one will be. It comprises elements of relationship drama, ghost horror, kooky humour and Nolan-esque time-warp thriller. There’s no problem with the idea of combining these styles in the one film, or in suspending the resolution for the audience, but they do have to come together in cohesion eventually. In Wander Darkly, the loose parts do not fit into a nice whole.

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