What You Need To Know:
Watching WANDER DARKLY, viewers will wonder sometimes whether Adrienne and Matteo are ghosts or Adrienne’s just imagining everything. Ultimately, the story appears to be happening in the confines of memory and imagination. On the positive side, the story builds to an emotionally powerful conclusion. Also, the acting is excellent. However, the movie has a strong Romantic worldview, mixed with some light Christian and moral elements. WANDER DARKLY also has lots of strong foul language, some scary moments and an explicit, brief bedroom scene. So, MOVIEGUIDE® advises excessive.
WANDER DARKLY is an imaginative romantic drama about a woman who thinks she died in a car accident and tries to reconstruct her past and her young daughter’s future with the help of her longtime partner, the father of her child. WANDER DARKLY’s story leads to a very moving conclusion celebrating love, but it contains lots of strong foul language, some scary moments and an explicit, brief bedroom scene.
As the story opens, Matteo, a carpenter who crafts wood furniture, and his girlfriend, Adrienne, have just had a baby girl, Ellie, and bought a house. All is not well between them, however. Adrienne’s still not happy. Even though Matteo’s done what she’s asked, she doesn’t feel he’s fully emotionally committed to their relationship. She suspects he harbors feelings for another woman with whom he’s been friends. It doesn’t help that he forgets about their date night, to attend a party at the friend’s house.
On the ride back from the party, they start arguing about their feelings for one another. Adrienne accuses Matteo of not being totally honest with her. At that moment, a car smashes head on into their car. Cut to Adrienne being wheeled into the hospital with lacerations on her head.
Suddenly, Adrienne is standing and seems to be watching as the hospital staff wheel her dead body into the morgue. Disoriented, Adrienne seems unstuck in time. She attends her own funeral and watches as her mother and father take charge of Ellie, then sees her mother talking to her teenage daughter about why her father decided to leave them. Just as suddenly, Adrienne finds herself on a walkway high above a freeway. She thinks about jumping off the walkway into the oncoming traffic, but Matteo appears and stops her. Adrienne thinks they both must be dead, but Matteo doesn’t see how that’s possible.
Adrienne and Matteo start to relive the most recent past and the history of the lives together, including a visit to see Matteo’s family in Mexico by the seashore. As Matteo tries to convince Adrienne at their house that she isn’t dead, the scenes from the past show them discussing the feelings between them back then. During this process, Adrienne looks for clues about what went wrong between them and solve the mystery of the accident.
WANDER DARKLY moves slowly, but builds to an emotionally powerful conclusion. Sienna Miller as Adrienne and Diego Luna as Matteo both do an excellent job, but this is clearly Sienna Miller’s movie. She delivers a tremendously layered, impressive performance that’s deeply touching. The filmmakers touch on issues of life and death, but avoid straying totally into the dangerous realm of the occult, though there is a scene with a palm reader who tells Adrienne she has a very short lifeline. In that scene, Adrienne tells the woman that Adrienne already knows she’s going to die in a traffic accident, but it becomes clear that Adrienne is speaking from the perspective of the time period following the accident. Ultimately, the movie jumbles life, death, past, present, future, reality, and fantasy to tell its story about the romance between Adrienne and Matteo. The movie’s ending eventually straightens everything out to where many of the movie’s scenes are taking place in Adrienne’s memory and imagination.
That said, WANDER DARKLY has a strong Romantic worldview, though there are some positive references to marriage, traditional biblical wedding vows, a Bible verse, and a Christian church. The movie’s ending is very moving and morally uplifting. The movie also has lots of strong foul language and an explicit, brief bedroom scene between the story’s unmarried couple. So, MOVIEGUIDE® advises excessive for WANDER DARKLY.