Combustible Celluloid
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With: Sienna Miller, Diego Luna, Beth Grant, Vanessa Bayer, Aimee Carrero, Tory Kittles, Ayden Mayeri, Dan Gill, Inde Navarrette
Written by: Tara Miele
Directed by: Tara Miele
MPAA Rating: R for language and some sexual content/nudity
Running Time: 97
Date: 12/11/2020

Wander Darkly (2020)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Dead Reckoning

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This metaphysical exploration of a complex relationship may feel a little gimmicky overall, but the intense, intimate exploration of moments between a male/female couple emerges as totally genuine.

Partners Adrienne (Sienna Miller) and Matteo (Diego Luna) have a new house and a newborn baby girl, but aren't yet married. They argue about their relationship on the way to a party. On the way home, they are hit by a car. In the hospital, Adrienne sees herself die, and begins experiencing a series of time shifts, even visiting a future where Matteo has abandoned his daughter.

But Matteo finds her and begins telling her their story, revisiting all of the crucial points in their lives together, each coming to understand the other's point of view. It works, and Adrienne begins feeling more like herself. But life has yet more twists for her.

Much more graceful than an experimental attempt like The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby, Wander Darkly seems to be able to understand the inner workings of both characters at the same time. Yet, as written and directed by Tara Miele, it has a distinctly female point of view. As the scenes magically, crazily transition from one impossible location to another, from one time period to another, the Adrienne character responds in an emotionally logical manner, focusing on what's important, rather than trying to solve the mystery.

The second chances the couple get are truly eye-opening; they re-live the same moments and get a chance to compare notes and tell each other what they were really thinking. Or perhaps a moment was mis-remembered; when a candle caught her room on fire, Adrienne only remembers Matteo running away, but in his story, he returned with a fire extinguisher.

Perhaps too much emphasis is put on marriage as a solution to everything, but even so, and even with its wallop of an ending, Wander Darkly has enough fluid communication between its two characters to make it something special.

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