‘Wander Darkly’ Review: After Death, a Fractured Life

Surviving a car crash, even a minor one, is a singular experience. In “Wander Darkly,” a film written and directed by Tara Miele, Adrienne (Sienna Miller) has an extra-singular experience — she dies in her auto accident, but lives on.

At the time of the crash, she and her partner Matteo (Diego Luna) are at an impasse. Unmarried, with a child they thought would focus their relationship, they’re angry at each other: Adrienne at Matteo’s inattention, Matteo at Adrienne’s flirtation at a party. After the collision, Adrienne, believing herself a ghost, wanders out of a hospital and to her own funeral. The experience is more “Carnival of Souls” than “Tom Sawyer,” and that’s encouraging.

Then Matteo shows up. For reasons never thoroughly rationalized or explained, he can see her, while others can’t. He becomes her docent in scenes from their shared past and possible future. They can converse privately while witnessing various scenarios, just like Marley and Scrooge in “A Christmas Carol.”

But instead of a revelation of past sins, we walk through the travails of yet one more generationally vague bourgeois bohemian Los Angeles couple grappling with the question, “What’s the point of us?”

Miele presents some interesting, insinuating imagery — a sidewalk that morphs into a wave-lapped beach, a Day of the Dead dance popping up in the middle of an idyllic Saturday-in-the-park scene.

But Adrienne and Matteo are, even as insular indie couples go, poorly developed. “You are my calm and my truth,” Adrienne says to Matteo in one scene. Only he doesn’t appear to be anything of the sort. Rather, both characters are attractive, socially presentable people who are ordinarily, aimlessly and stubbornly self-absorbed. Car crash, or baby, or neither, their alliance never seems worth sustaining.

Wander Darkly
Rated R for intense content and language. Running time: 1 hour 37 minutes. In theaters and available to rent or buy on Amazon, Apple TV and other streaming platforms and pay TV operators. Please consult the guidelines outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention before watching movies inside theaters.

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