Review: Wander Darkly

Year: 2020

Runtime: 97 minutes

Director: Tara Miele

Writer: Tara Miele

Actors: Diego Luna, Sienna Miller, Beth Grant, Tory Kittles, Aimee Carrero

By Joan Amenn

Director Tara Miele took her own trauma in surviving a car accident and rendered it into art by bravely writing and directing “Wander Darkly.” It is an intimate look at a relationship that is far from perfect, which is admirable because it makes the struggle to come to terms with the crisis that the couple experience more real. Matteo (Diego Luna) and Adrienne (Sienna Miller) do not have an ideal life with a newborn, a new house and the financial difficulties all that entails. When a sudden tragedy occurs, there are no easy resolutions to the issues they had before as they grapple with how to move forward.

Sienna Miller pulls out all the stops showing her range as an actress as the demanding yet tender hearted Adrienne. She adores her baby daughter but can be shrill and impatient with her partner, Matteo. He can be irresponsible and absorbed in his pursuit of his craft as a woodworker and furniture designer. Together, they can seethe in long held resentments toward one another. This is all told in a montage of scenes from their life together that can at times be confusing. Luna couldn’t stop being charming if he tried, but here he also shows a vulnerability as his ambivalence with commitments causes tensions with his partner. Because of the disjointedness of the plot, we do not learn as much about Matteo as we do Adrienne, but he is touching in his attempts to become the man she wants him to be. The script does not break new ground in telling the story of how to appreciate the life one has because one day it could all change, which is the only weakness in an otherwise solid effort by Miele.

There are a few terrifying moments that might trigger those who have had similar experiences of surviving car collisions. Adrienne’s post traumatic stress is harrowing as she gropes for normalcy and her desire to focus on caring for her baby. Miele has considerable experience behind the camera and it shows in how she pulls the audience into Adrienne’s disrupted world, to the point of almost being claustrophobic at times. Some scenes are a little too dark to follow the action easily but this just lends to the overall surrealism of the film. Miele and her editors pieced together scenes from lives interrupted and wove an ultimately uplifting film about the preciousness of time and love.

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