The "Sense of Luck and Gratitude" in ‘Wander Darkly’: 'THR Presents' Q&A With Writer-Director Tara Miele and Sienna Miller

Miele says that the fantasy-like script sprung from surviving a bad car crash with her husband years earlier.

The Hollywood Reporter’s Scott Feinberg sat down with writer-director Tara Miele and actress Sienna Miller to discuss the pair’s new film, Wander Darkly, in a THR Presents Q&A powered by Vision Media. During the half-hour conversation, Miele revealed that the fantasy-like script sprung from surviving a bad car crash with her husband years earlier. Her heightened awareness of her mortality following the accident left her with “a sense of luck and gratitude every day [that] you aren’t dealing with tragedy,” she told THR.

The Lionsgate film follows new parent Adrienne (Sienna Miller) in the aftermath of a car accident with her partner, Matteo (Diego Luna), as they work to repair their fractured relationship, while flowing in and out of Adrienne’s concussion-induced dream state.

Miller was able to explore the complexities of this relationship, thanks in part to a week of rehearsal with Miele and Luna before the 24-day shoot. Time wasn’t spent blocking shots so much as sharing personal experiences that reflected conversations in the film. “The notion of going back with a partner in a state of a relationship that is imploding — that felt really honest,” said Miller. “Relationships are really, really fascinating to me. I was so blindsided by the turns this film took. I did not see any of it coming.”

The film’s themes of beauty, tragedy and gratitude within relationships bring to mind other movies such as Ghost (1990), It’s a Wonderful Life (1946), and even Wander Darkly producer Lynette Howell Taylor’s own Blue Valentine (2010). Miele acknowledged the influence of films like these and made sure to pay homage and give due to filmmakers like Charlie Kaufman, whose Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind also shares DNA with Wander Darkly.

Miele also opened up about the literary origin of the film’s title. In a 19th century poem by Lord Byron, a growing knowledge that the sun may be eventually extinguished prompted him to pen: “the stars did wander darkling in the eternal space,” which, according to Miele, was a “beautiful way to talk about a devastating idea.” Touching on loss and isolation, Wander Darkly fits perfectly with emotional journeys that have become familiar to many people in 2020 and beyond. Says Miller: “There are themes in this film that everybody is connected to right now. [Many are] experiencing grief and loss and solitude. It’s a perfect time for a film like this. The feeling that it leaves you with is a desire to connect.”

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