(director/writer: Tara Miele;  cinematographer: Carolina Costa; editors: Tamara Meem, Alex O’Flinn; music: Alex Weston; cast:  Beth Grant (Patty Healy, Adrienne’s mom), Diego Luna (Matteo), Tory Kittles (Liam, Adrienne’s lover),  Sienna Miller (Adrienne, Brett Rice (Steve), Vanessa Bayer (Maggie), Aimee Carrero (Shen, Matteo’s lover), Inde Navarrette (Ellie); Runtime: 97; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Lynette Howell Taylor, Samantha Housman, Shivani Rawat, Monica Levinson; 51 Entertainment/Lionsgate; 2020)

I’ve seen some bad car crash films, and you can include this one.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A non-linear trauma time-bending drama that’s over-plotted and squeezed dry by writer/director Tara Miele (“Gone Missing”/”The Lake Effect”). The dense drama is a muddled one, that’s poorly grounded and saved only by the star performance by Sienna Miller. The film was undoubtedly influenced by the superior Michel Gondry’s “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”.

The unmarried couple of Adrienne (Sienna Miller) and Matteo (Diego Luna) finds their long-time relationship is fizzling out. They only stick it out because of their infant daughter and that they just bought a home in the suburbs together. The couple have a heated argument while driving home after a night out and while not paying attention to the road get into a head-on collision. Adrienne wakes up bloody in a hospital and assumes she’s dead. The drama turns to fantasy, as the dead Adrienne hasn’t retreated to the after-world and is still visible to her mate. He converses with her trying to tell she’s alive. The viewer is then filled into their back story, as Matteo becomes a tour guide taking his wife on a tour of their life together, while trying to bring back pleasant memories so she would want to be alive. This tour revives their relationship with some new insights.

None of this magical realism is explained, which turned me off. I assume she’s a ghost, so I wondered how she could fuck her lover since it’s not possible for a ghost to fuck. The coy film seems to be fucking with us, as it refuses to tell us things we should know about the rules it sets for its fantasies.

I never knew what was possible here (as it asks too much of its audience to blindly accept all its weirdness), but I take my hat off to Sienna for playing it so real as if its fantasy stuff could be real. The exchanges between her and Diego was pleasingly human and would work in a conventional romantic film.

Though some high concepts about retaining memories, like in Gondry’s film become an important part of the film, it chooses to conclude in a pat way by wrapping things up neatly and never overcoming all its time-line stumbles and vagueness about her supposed death.

I’ve seen some bad car crash films,
and you can include this one.

Wander Darkly - Sundance - U.S. DRAMA - Publicity - H 2020

REVIEWED ON 12/12/2020  GRADE:  C