The existential romantic drama “Wander Darkly” is one of the more melancholy (and memorable) films of 2020. The story of a couple who are involved in a traumatic accident and awake to find themselves in a surreal state of limbo translates into an elegant, emotionally moving feature that provides a new perspective on the complexity of relationships.
Adrienne (Sienna Miller) and Matteo (Diego Luna) are new parents on the verge of splitting up. After a sudden car crash, the pair do a bit of soul searching by wandering together through their new reality. The couple reflect on their past while facing an uncertain future, sharing an unsettling journey that explores each other’s narratives as they look back on what went wrong (and what went right) in their relationship. They relive the greatest hits of their past with insight, hindsight, and often contrasting perspectives.
The film features some very interesting storytelling from writer / director Tara Miele. It’s a premise many have likely thought about, because who wouldn’t want to finally learn the truth about what your partner was thinking during certain points in your relationship? Matteo and Adrienne aren’t exactly doomed lovers, but they have a relationship filled with missteps, regrets, and genuine affection. As they re-examine and revisit milestones in their life together, the two begin to understand the same event from a different viewpoint. By confronting issues head on, they discover that one person’s truth may not actually be as factual as they once concluded.
There’s a real authenticity and honesty to the characters and the story, and Miller and Luna have a believable chemistry. Both actors give effective, emotional performances, which makes this look at love feel even more sad.
“Wander Darkly” reminds me of a hybrid of “Marriage Story” and “A Ghost Story” because it features a troubled relationship that’s explored through an ethereal, dream-like film. Through her very original screenplay, Miele conveys how trauma can blur the lines of reality and memory. It’s an exceptionally melancholy story, but it touched me deeply.