AFI FEST 2020: Wander Darkly

Sienna Miller and Diego Luna in Wander Darkly. Courtesy of Lionsgate.

Sienna Miller delivers one of her finest performances in Wander Darkly but the film’s narrative approach is where viewers might get lost.

Adrienne (Sienna Miller) and Matteo (Diego Luna) are in a car accident shortly after the film starts.  Following the accident, the film takes us on a confusing narrative where the two are in a different sort of state.  We’re seeing them through the events of moments the duo shared together at previous points in their life.  This is one of those concepts that you sort of catch on to during the films 97-minute run time.

Wander Darkly is a different of relationship drama what what most filmgoers are used to seeing.  I’m not sure if it’s a film where I’m left asking myself what did I just watch.  This cannot be stressed enough: there is so much to unpack after viewing the film.  You have to jump through a lot of hoops before getting into the third act where there is closure to a confusing timeline.

This film truly is the Sienna Miller and Diego Luna show.  The two clearly have chemistry together when sharing scenes on screen.  You’re able to buy into the idea of them being new parents.

I don’t envy anyone who had to review Wander Darkly on deadline during Sundance.  This isn’t an easy film to digest what with all the things that writer-director Tara Miele is trying to say here.  There’s certainly something existential going on here but the narrative presents itself in a way that can easily confuse someone.  It isn’t a simple case of an opening scene followed by a series of flashbacks.

In watching the post-screening Q&A, Miele says that she was in a car crash with her husband.  This certainly adds some insightful context to how the script began to take shape.  I have nothing against turning trauma into art but the way in which Miele approaches the script certainly brings about confusion.  I can’t stress the confusion part enough.

Fine acting isn’t enough to overcome a confusing narrative in Wander Darkly.

CAST:  Sienna Miller, Diego Luna, Beth Grant, Vanessa Bayer, Brett Rice, Aimee Carrero, Tory Kittles

Wander Darkly screens during the 2020 AFI FEST in the World Cinema program. Lionsgate will open in theaters and VOD on December 11, 2020. Grade: 3/5

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.