I Am the Wanderer is a surreal 40-minute film, which is difficult to contain in a conventional plot description, both because of the surreal nature of the content on the screen, and also without spoiling anything about the narrative.
The film opens with the eponymous Wanderer waking up at the foot of a tree, dazed and confused, and seemingly lost. Visions of “The Beautiful Woman” (as the credits name her in true Lynchian fashion) appear intermittently, and from the outset it’s unclear, yet intriguing, to the audience as to who this woman is to the Wanderer, and whether or not she’s truly there. The film then plays out his journey of “wandering” drawing us simultaneously a step closer and a step further away from understanding who the Wanderer is, and how he arrived at the place he begins.
Director and producer Philip Brocklehurst has noted that during the production of this film, a lot of complications took place and prevented the film from ever being finished as planned. With this in mind, a lot of the film’s decisions make more sense, and the retrospective narrative ending created within the edit can be noticed through several moments within the film. However, it’s not entirely to the film’s detriment, and in fact, adds an extra layer of surrealism. This ethereal, experimental nature looming over the film adds mystery to the Wanderer’s journey, and for the most part, things seem to be left open-ended in this way. This can be annoying in some instances on film, but when set up in such a context as this – a specifically mysterious film that enjoys then enjoys the mystery more than it does the payoff – can work really effectively.
Overall, I enjoyed I Am the Wanderer as a piece of ambitious amateur filmmaking. That’s not to say it’s not slightly flawed, and I did find some things went on for too long. Having said this, knowing what you’re watching is always good, and being a fan of David Lynch, Harmony Korine, and other surrealistic filmmakers, I was prepared for the route this film took from its outset. The story is committed to serving its style, and this adds to my respect for the filmmakers’ ambitions with the project, particularly for the ambition of what I assume is quite a low-budget production. True, the film isn’t beautifully lit, shot on a high-end camera and rendered with eye-popping colour grading, but Brocklehurst aims for something else with this: a grungy, naturally lit, Dogme 95-esque piece of mystery, which knows it’s budget and their limitations, and as such, respects and plays with them accordingly.
In actual fact, the production story of the film regarding not being finished and having to be built in the edit goes to show Brocklehurst’s talent, in that it shows how well a situation like this has been handled. The film is worth a watch as a good lesson in saving a film that hasn’t been finished and is testament to the true importance of a good editor. Well done to all the crew involved.