Wander Darkly, from writer-director Tara Miele, is the story of a relationship. It is told in a unusual manner that some viewers may find difficult, but if you stick with it, it will reward you.
Adrienne (Sienna Miller) and Matteo (Diego Luna) have recently bought a house and had a child, but their relationship is somewhat rocky. On a turbulent date night, there is a terrible accident. In the aftermath of that event, the couple struggles to understand why they were together. But the journey to their understanding is a very twisty and strenuous road.
It begins in the ER after the accident. Adrienne has an out of body experience, seeing her body on a gurney and wheeled into the morgue. She wanders into different scenes and settings. When she eventually reconnects with Matteo, he assures her she is alive. They have a child. Everything is real. They begin to visit their memories of their relationship. The first, which sets the tone for all the rest is right after their baby was born. To talk about trauma is to begin to understand it, so Adrienne tells her newborn about the trauma involved in the birth. As the film plays out, Adrienne and Matteo work through the trauma they have experienced by talking about their past.
There is a meta quality to their memories. As they experience the events of their past, they discuss what happened and their feelings as they are remembering it. They are not only reliving events; they are simultaneously looking back at them from the present. As they go from good memories to bad and back to current day, we see the kinds of things that make up a relationship. We see the times of joy and the times of hardship.
Just before the accident, the two are wondering why they are still together. As we see their life together to this point, we come to realize why they connected, and also why they drifted apart. And in the end, we see how they will be connected in the days and years ahead.
The structure of the film, with the questions of whether the characters are alive or not, borders on the horror genre and often seems like a psychological thriller, but at its heart this is a love story. Through Matteo and Adrienne’s relived memories, we see what it is that makes up the love that they share. Although there are some things that will never be healed, because they have undergone this period of memory, talking, experiencing each other as they had before, the love they held is transformed into something even more lasting.
Wander Darkly is available in select theaters, on virtual cinema through local arthouses, and on VOD.
Photos courtesy of Lionsgate.