waves

★★★

DIRECTOR: Trey Edward Shults (it comes at night)
STARRING: kelvin harrison jr., taylor russell, alexa demie and lucas hedges

 

REVIEWER: lyall carter

Waves traces the journey of a suburban family - led by a well-intentioned but domineering father - as they navigate love, forgiveness, and coming together in the aftermath of a loss.

Ever since lockdown my movie ‘obsession’ has dulled slightly in that I haven’t read every article, seen every trailer or watched every interview about each particular film. When I walked into Waves all I’d seen was the poster. This left me able to enter into the film without any preconceived notions of it. And Waves is a powerful film with an astounding cast, slightly let down by a meandering structure. 

 

Set against the vibrant landscape of South Florida, Waves traces the epic emotional journey of a suburban African-American family - led by a well-intentional but domineering father - as they navigate love, forgiveness and coming together in the aftermath of a loss. 

 

Waves is powerful. Powerful in the subject matter it explores, powerful in the acting prowess of its cast and powerful in the meticulous way in which all the cinematic elements have been placed together. The sound design and soundtrack are the best I’ve seen (or heard?) in a film all year. 

 

Director Trey Edward Shults ratchets up the tension, inch by inch, with seemingly small incidents building until they explode and obliterate every character in its path. It was so impactful that this moment caused cries of shock from the audience I was watching it with. 

 

Although the themes of the dynamics and dysfunction of family relationships, the impact of one horrific mistake, forgiveness and race are explored, stretched out and used to rock us as the audience, I wasn’t particularly moved or felt loyalty to any of the characters.

 

I think one of the reasons I felt this way is that the structure of the film felt loose. Halfway through the film, after Tyler hit his ex-girlfriend Alexis leaving her in a pool of blood on a garage floor, I thought the film was finished. But it was only halfway through the film and the attention then turned to Emily, Tyler’s sister, and the impact that his actions had on her life. It seemed to meander a wee bit. 

 

I get that Waves was a certain perspective on family and the impacts of the actions of a member of that family on the rest of its members, but Tylers actions had more of a devastating impact on Alexis' family. We saw how Tyler’s actions impacted his family, but the impact on Alexis’ family was barely acknowledged. 

 

That being said, the cast of Waves is absolutely incredible and worth the admission price alone. Young stars Kelvin Harrison Jr. and Taylor Russell give understated yet powerful performances with veteran actors Renee Goldsberry (from Hamilton fame) and Sterling K. Brown rounding out the cast.  

 

Waves is a powerful film with an astounding cast, slightly let down by a meandering structure. 

★★★

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