A pulse pounding, emotional roller coaster that will leave you breathless.
Traces the journey of a suburban family – led by a well intentioned but domineering father – as they navigate love, forgiveness and coming together.
They don’t really make many films like this anymore. Waves is a literal gut-punch of raw and intense emotion, that tells the story of what happens when things suddenly fall apart in the lives of a perfect family. Everything can change in the blink of an eye, a millisecond, your entire life can shift from one extreme to the other. There are no guarantees in life and certainly no free passes. At times Waves can become a difficult watch, not due to the movie being bad but because of the context being presented. Certain scenes and certain moments will leave you floored, in fact the entire audience during my screening let out a collective gasp at the exact moment during one of the most emotionally driven scenes I’ve seen all year.
Trey Edward Shults writer and director has crafted something so beautiful, so powerful so well-made it’s remarkable he was just 30 years old when he filmed it. The opening scene is so beautiful and so happy, you know from the very opening moments that this experience will be something you remember. Waves is essentially two different movies in one. A Moonlight blueprint as you will, where it tells two different stories, each complimenting each other, while neither could exist without the other. The first half of the film follows Tyler (Kelvin Harrison Jr) in his quest to please his father Ronald (Sterling K Brown). His father is trying to push his son not because he wants to but because he has too. You see Ronald believes they have to work 1000 times harder than anyone else to get anywhere in life. Being now successful himself he wants to install that knowledge and work ethic into his son. Even if that means Tyler does almost anything to make sure he doesn’t disappoint his dad. Their relationship is a complicated one, because it appears they spend a lot of time together, yet they are never really truly bonding as a father and son should. Waves is definitely one of those films where the less you know going in the better the experience is going to be. Even the trailer does a fantastic job at providing a background but doesn’t spoil anything, the movie I thought I was going to see and the movie I ended up watching were completely different things, and I’m glad.
When tragedy strikes it’s a ripple effect for those closest to you. That’s where the second part of the movie comes in. It deals with Tyler’s sister Emily (Taylor Russell) who finds herself lost and without anyone to connect to. Waves does a fantastic job at showcasing how a tragic event can follow you not just in a personal manner, but in an online way as well. How you can’t really escape something from your past. Soon Emily meets Luke (Lucas Hedges) and they quickly bond and it’s the driving force for the second half of this film. It’s such a shift in everything we are watching in the first hour and in most cases when films do this, it just doesn’t work. For me, this works so incredibly well and really puts a nice bow on the entire thing. Hedges and Russell just have terrific chemistry, seeing Hedges act as a goofy high school kid was charming and he sweeps Emily off her feet just when she thinks all hope is lost. When a family is shattered to pieces it takes time to put it back together. It’s piece by piece but sure enough everything will fall back into place.
Waves is tricky to discuss because you don’t want to spoil anything and going in blind will lead to the most satisfying experience. Sterling K Brown is a tour de force yet again, every time he is on screen it’s a treat. I honestly can’t say enough good things about this movie and I certainly can’t wait to talk about it with anyone who sees it. There’s a 20 minute stretch that is just heart breaking material and I haven’t stopped thinking about since I walked out of the theatre. This is right now the leader in the clubhouse for my favourite movie of the year.
Waves = 96/100