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The Wheel (2021)
There's a lot to admire about a 2021 drama called The Wheel, which looks at two relationships at similar crossroads that become hopelessly intertangled, but is hard to completely engage in due to one of the characters being too all over the place to invest in.

Walker and Albee got married in their teens and eight years later are on the verge of a divorce. They have decided to work on their marriage by driving to a remote AirB&B in the mountains equipped with a book called "Seven Questions to Save Your Marriage." They are warmly welcomed to the AirB&B by the owners, Carly and Ben, who are engaged to be married and find their relationship challenged by their attempts to help Walker and Albee.

Director Steve Pink, whose career prior to this film has mostly been as a screenwriter (Grosse Point Blank, High Fidelity) shows some real skill as a director, bringing a viable tension to Trent Atkinson's spotty screenplay that presents two couples who initially appear to be very different, but as the story progresses they seem to have a lot more in common than we thought.

There were a couple of things about the premise of this story that I really liked. I liked the idea of a young couple having marital troubles actually committing to trying to save their marriage with some outside help like a book and an intimate getaway. This is something we usually see in couples who have been married 20 or 30 years. I also liked that it was the husband who seemed to be the partner who really wanted to work at saving his marriage, which is something that I don't recall seeing before.

What didn't work for me was the character of Albee, the angry, bitter, bride with a troubled past who initially seems to want to end the marriage and is completely uncooperative with Walker's efforts, but by the halfway point in the story, what Albee wants becomes completely incomprehensible as one scene she wants to get as far from Walker as possible and the next wants to make this marriage work. There is even a hint of sexual tension between her and Ben, which is dropped almost immediately, but it's not long before Ben starts doubting his feelings for Carly, though we're not really sure why. The point of the story seems to be that these two couple's relationships are in the same place, brought out by each other, but nothing about the angry Albee is present in the relationship between Carly and Ben. By the final act, there seems to be some hope for Albee and Walker, but we're not sure if it's divorce or reconciliation. Atkinson's screenplay is a little too vague and has us scratching our heads by the final scene.

Pink makes the most of what appears to be a limited budget. The film is beautifully photographed and Pink gets solid performances from Amber Midthunder, Taylor Gray, Bethany Anne Lind, and Nelson Lee in the leads, I just wish the screenplay hadn't left so much of the story up in the air. I was also a little vague about the title, but I had an inkling by the conclusion and if I was right, it didn't work for me.