Film: Wander Darkly
- Credit: Lionsgate
Even its star, Sienna Miller, says the film's concept is hard to describe, but I'd suggest it's a variation on those well known 90s films where a male star suffers a violent, traumatic event at the start and two hours later works out that he's been dead ever since.
Wander Darkly starts with Miller being involved in a major car crash after which she spends the rest of the film in a floaty swirly afterlife limbo/purgatory revisiting scenes from her life and reviewing scenes from a future where she is absent. Mostly though she is bickering with co-star Luna about his failings as a boyfriend and father and trying to work out if she is actually dead or not.
Like its lead character, the film places the audience in a state of limbo. We are all trying to work out the exact nature of this afterlife limbo/purgatory she is stuck in and what exactly is at stake. In this freeform state flowing back and forth in time, there is no traditional narrative momentum, so viewers are adrift, without the traditional signposts telling us where we are in the story or what kind of destination we are heading for.
Both Adrienne (Miller) and Matteo (Luna) can step in and out of the situation they are experiencing. For example, the pair relive their first meeting while simultaneously reflecting on the situation with the benefit of hindsight. I kept thinking that this kind of detached replaying of events would be a great comic premise, but played straight it discourages emotional investment. Adrienne and Matteo never become characters, just Miller and Luna with different names.
Yet the film is still moving. It was clearly made on a limited budget but writer-director Miele manages to come up with some striking images even if these flirt with the idea that after you die you end up in a late-era Terrence Malick film. And Sienna Miller's performance gives it considerable emotion weight. You may not believe anything about the film other than the absolute authenticity of her heartbreak. 3/5 stars
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Directed by Tara Miele. Starring Sienna Miller, Diego Luna, Beth Grant, Vanessa Bayer, Brett Rice and Tory Kittles. Available VOD from March 8. Running time: 97 mins.
http://www.halfmanhalfcritic.com/ for reviews of Disney's Raya And The Last Dragon and Coming 2 America.
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