Wander Darkly is one of those films where I just don’t want to stop talking about it but it’s also very difficult to discuss without spoiling.
Sienna Miller and Diego Luna play new parents who are going through the struggles that many first-time parents go through. When an accident upends their world, they are left to re-examine who they are as a couple and journey back through their life together to see who they are now, and what is left of them.
Written and directed by Tara Miele, loosely inspired by a real-life accident involving herself and her husband, it’s a beautiful film both emotionally and physically. The shot composition is wonderful and the fluidity between scenes is incredibly reminiscent of films like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. The combination of Miele’s story working with Carolina Costa’s dreamlike cinematography and fantastic editing from Tamara Meem and Alex O’Flinn, it’s one of the most visually arresting films I’ve seen this year.
Alongside this, the score and music used throughout pushes us through the story along with our protagonist Adrienne. It’s powerful and emotive, doing so much of the emotional heavy lifting in the film, but never feeling cheap or manipulative. The film poster bares Jenelle Riley’s quote for Variety ‘Feels like watching a poem’ and this sums it up wonderfully. The graceful use of sound and powerful editing let us flow through the story back and forth with Adrienne and Matteo as the waves of honesty, grief and regret hit the powerful love shared by the pair.
Not just a technical feat, the core love story is equally engaging. The script is raw and honest as is the central question we are faced with after the traumatic incident. Miele and Miller have both described the film as an emotionally gruelling confrontation of grief. Grief for a love lost, a missing part of you, the person you once were, the choices you didn’t take. It’s a mediation of the growth of two people for better or for worse, and the relationship post-mortem everyone wishes they could have.
With a crew of women in front of and behind the camera (Miele has said it was roughly 50/50) it’s very much a story of womanhood and how becoming a mother, after lover, can change our internal core. Imagery of breastfeeding, female pleasure and female support are seen throughout but never lingered upon too much. Adrienne is a fully formed complex human, as is partner Matteo in a particularly strong performance from Diego Luna.
Whilst the ending doesn’t quite match the power of the films core, I still found myself sobbing long after the credits rolled. Wander Darkly is able to feel reminiscent of films gone before yet also entirely new and unique. A poignant and emotive film that will not only stay with you, but also make you reflect on the relationships in your own life.
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