The concept of an afterlife is an intriguing theme when explored in cinema. But it can also be a double-edged sword. Wander Darkly attempts to tell a relationship drama using the afterlife as a vehicle, but the journey isn’t as compelling as the movie aims to be.
Adrienne (Sienna Miller) finds herself in limbo and while trying to find answers, she is joined by Matteo (Diego Luna). The couple has to “relive and renegotiate their past in order to face an uncertain future” according to writer-director Tara Miele.
This is when things go crazy because as Adrienne loses her sense of reality, so does the plot. The timeline jumps back and forth between the past, present, and future. The couple travels back to their memories – a spin on the “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” with a touch of “Stay” – to resolve their issues.
Sienna Miller delivers a great performance here that it’s clear Hollywood has underestimated her as another pretty face. Diego Luna holds his own. The pair has chemistry and does their best to keep the story emotionally grounded. The cinematography creates an interesting netherworld that the couple navigates.
Unfortunately, audiences are bound to get lost in a muddled narrative. The movie jumps between a haunted thriller and relationship drama, then betrays its own story. After going through mental gymnastics the plot settles on the obvious question – is Adrienne dead or not?
It’s all so tedious and repetitive that it requires you to jump through different hoops before getting to an ending that you already know the answer to. The movie’s creative take on the “in-between” becomes a conventional love story.
Wander Darkly is based on writer-director Tara Miele’s own experience with a car accident. This no doubt helped the film map an emotional journey. But it’s hard to connect with as the movie wanders in circles and stumbles towards its conclusion.
Wander Darkly is a well-acted but tedious drama because of a laborious and confusing narrative.