AFI Fest: Wander Darkly & Shadow in the Cloud Review

AFI Fest: Wander Darkly & Shadow in the Cloud Review

For me, as an avid film person, for a lot of years, I never thought I would have gotten to where I am today within the world of being a ‘critic.’ A few weeks back, I covered the Nashville Film Festival. It was amazing, but today and over the next week, I am tackling one of the biggest festivals of the year, AFI Fest.

So I hope you enjoy this ride along with me as I cover films that range from Short Films to Documentaries to New Auteurs to World Cinema and so much more.

Wander Darkly

Sienna Miller and Diego Luna appear in Wander Darkly by Tara Miele, an official selection of the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival.

New parents Adrienne and Matteo are forced to reckon with trauma amidst their troubled relationship. They must revisit the memories of their past and unravel haunting truths in order to face their uncertain future.

We are introduced to Matteo (Deigo Luna) and Adrienne (Sienna Miller), who are struggling in their first year of marriage. We see them bickering back and forth, and BOOM, car accident.

After the accident, we begin to weave in and out of different parts of Adrienne’s past with Matteo, and she is trying to remember things and unsure of how the past really played out.

Here, when we are weaving in and out, you get a bit lost in the shuffle, and within that, you lose that sense of urgency and the care of what is transpiring.

Next, Sienna Miller does this remarkable job of being this devastatingly broken woman struggling with the idea of being gone. She’s hurt, lost, confused, and struggles with the idea of what to do next. Miller portrays Adrienne, and her struggles perfectly.

Last, the twist is a good one, and honestly, I didn’t see it coming at all. And I love the fact that it didn’t feel forced and it was shot with perfection and got the perfect reaction from both the film and the viewer.

The Verdict:

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Sienna Miller gives a heartbreaking performance that is one of the years best.

Shadow in the Cloud

A female WWII pilot traveling with top secret documents on a B-17 Flying Fortress encounters an evil presence on board the flight.

We are introduced to Maude Garrett, who was ordered to travel with secret documents aboard a B-17 Flying Fortress, and open arms do not welcome her by sexist soldiers who won’t stop belittling her.

As she is put in the below cockpit, Maude is stuck. Simultaneously, the men above don’t believe anything of which she is saying as we see an Alien-like creature, planes coming in, and all this going on while she is stuck fighting off the men not believing her and these insane obstacles placed in front of her.

Next, Roseanna Liang shooting provides this claustrophobic like feel to the shooting here that makes every sequence feel intense and on the edge of your seat. With close-quarters shooting, the actor is the film’s focal point, the close-ups, the dialogue, and the film have to be carried, and it only works with good acting. Chloe Grace Moretz does just this with her facial expressions, her sense of urgency. Moretz makes you feel everything that Maude is going through.

Up until the point of which we see Maude hanging out of the plane, I was having a good time, and this happens, and the CGI and the unrealistic nature of what was happening made me want to check out. I legit audibly said, ‘Oh, My God.’ I am so furious at the chain of events that transpired, and the crazy thing about it is, they didn’t need to do this scene at all. Liang was trying to make this a big-time scene, and it just fell short.

Wait, I just audibly said, ‘Oh, My God.’ again. That was one of the worst scenes I have ever seen in my life. I am not joking.

Finally, the film had a fantastic premise, and the third act just went over the top for no reason at all.

The Verdict:

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

‘Chloe Grace Moretz’s performance can’t overshadow one of the worst third acts I’ve ever witnessed.’

Jacob is a film critic and co-founder of the Music City Drive-In. He is a member of the Music City Film Critics’ Association and specializes in the awards season. You can find him on Twitter @Tberry57.

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