9/10 “Waves” was a film that I knew almost nothing about before seeing it, which is a rare pleasure for me to have. All I knew was that it came from the best independent film studio, A24, and it looked very emotional. After having watched it I can happily report that this is one of the best films of the year, although its rather somber, adult content will surely not be for everybody. Since I haven’t watched “This is Us” yet, I haven’t been obsessed with Stirling K. Brown’s acting talents like so many I talk to have. Yet the acting is just one of the many phenomenal aspects of this film that will blow you away. Brown, along with Taylor Russell and Kelvin Harrison Jr. are the three performances that will stun you, while Renée Elise Goldsberry, Lucas Hedges and Alexa Demie also provide terrific work. Besides Brown and Hedges, I either didn’t know any of these other actors or had only seen them in smaller, minor roles. Yet having so many new faces deliver Academy Award level acting was something I was not expecting. This has some of the best cinematography and in particular, the use of lighting is incredible. The spinning camera during car rides plays with your emotions as you don’t know if this is just a fun car ride or if a crash is about to happen. During a wrestling scene, the camera gets as close to the action as possible, putting you uncomfortably close so you feel as if you are wrestling along with these two men. It is very rare that I mention a film’s use of color (it was Stanley Kubrick’s “A Clockwork Orange” and its use of color that first made me truly take note of color being used to completely elevate a film and speak to the audience) but “Waves” has the best use of color that I have seen in a film in years. The dialogue puts you on the edge of your seat and you never know what is going to happen next. This is only writer/director Trey Edward Shults’s third film and although I was disappointed with his second film (“It Comes At Night”), I have heard really good things about his debut feature, “Krisha”. He has such control over this film while simultaneously letting us feel utterly out of control while we watch it. The film deals with heavy thematic elements and is not a feel good film so those of you looking for a film to enjoy around the holidays might want to wait until you’re in the right frame of mind to watch it. The pacing works well and I am excited for future work from this cast and crew. The best composing duo working today, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, deliver an incredible score that suits the film perfectly. I could tell the soundtrack was really working because the soundtrack contains kinds of music that I really don’t like, yet I loved it in this film because it wasn’t shoehorned in to sell soundtracks. It actually served the tone and mood of the story as you feel these emotions that the characters feel and I was extremely impressed by that. My only minor complaints were that the second half of the film (while strong) wasn’t quite as strong/engaging as the first half and a couple scenes had individual moments that seemed slightly unrealistic which briefly took me out of the film. That being said, like the use of color, a film’s title is something that I rarely comment on because it generally doesn’t matter all that much but “Waves” has the best title of 2019 as we see literal waves washing over our characters and emotional waves impacting everyone in the cast. There couldn’t have been a more perfect title for this film so if you are in the mood for a film that is as heavy as an ocean, ride the wave over to a theater and check this out.
#WrestleWithYourPast / #StarringPeopleOfColor / #EscapeGloom / #JoyErased / #BadProms / #ManchesterByTheManatee