Ben (Jesse C. Boyd) has amnesia after getting in a car accident following his attendance at his mother’s funeral in Texas. With little knowledge of his life, Ben is under the care of his younger brother Lee (Layton Matthews), who doesn’t entirely believe that Ben is telling the truth about losing his memory. Still, when Ben pushes for Lee to travel with him to Los Angeles, so that Ben can track down their estranged father and hopefully jog his memory about his life, Lee eventually, albeit reluctantly, agrees and the two set out.
Upon arriving in LA, the duo meet pirate TV personality, and conspiracy theory nut, Coyote (Ben Dreyfuss), who helps them find out more about their dear old Dad. Of course, nothing is ever that simple. The more they find out about Ben’s life prior to the accident, the more they wish they had stayed ignorant.
Tonally, The Wanderers is an interesting mix. For the most part it’s your typical mystery with some “fish out of water” elements thrown in for support, but it also seems to borrow from the more amnesia-friendly action films of recent years, particularly in the second half of the film. Not saying that the film goes all explosions and shoot-em-up, but there’s that comfortable feeling that, at any moment, it could go that route and it wouldn’t seem entirely out of place, based on the vibe at that point. Either that, or Inspector Gadget (again, there’s that odd mix of tone).
Which, yeah, makes this a little tricky to pin down. What I can say with certainty is that the cinematography is great; the film is very visually pleasing. Which is always a good sign. Even if you’re put off by the uncertainty of the vibe, the visual aesthetic at least works.
Overall, Layton Matthews’ The Wanderers achieves its individuality by being such a tantalizing gumbo of genre, whether that was intentional or not. I mean, we all process and are influenced by the media we consume, and eventually translate through our own creations, knowingly or otherwise. Had this film not gotten the mix right, it could’ve easily been forgettable.
Instead, I’m still intrigued by how I felt about the final scene of the film, and how that feeling was both in accordance and conflict with everything that came before it. Like, it fit… but it shouldn’t have. Believe it or not, I dig it when a film makes me ponder such things in a positive way. I mean, had this just been a narrative clusterfuck amongst different genres, this would be an entirely different review.
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