Waves Film Review

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'Waves' 'Waves' Image © A24

The film 'Waves' is unrelenting and intense, so effectively does it hold your attention and stir your emotions there can be no question that it is a great film, but recommending it has to be weighed up.


This is not fun to watch, although it is at times strikingly beautiful and poetic, there is a pervading sense of unease from the opening minutes until near the end.

There, filmmaker Trey Edward Shults concludes his treatise on parenthood, adolescence, the power of hate and the redemption of love with a hopefulness that you will feel to your very bones.

You do not observe the daily life of Florida teenagers Tyler (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) and Emily Williams (Taylor Russell) – you are with them.

This is not a film to watch, this is life rendered large on screen and with it comes all the uncertainty, pain and nuance of life and the complex emotions we have in any given moment.



Describing this film will make it sound like an exercise, it is a character drama, the camera moves incessantly, the editing is meticulous and the performances powerful. If it sounds like awards bait, then it must be underlined that it is revolutionary.

There are plot points and clear shifts in focus, but this feels more organic than most stories rendered on screen. Despite the use of established techniques, this is truly vital and modern.
It also feels earned, we know something is coming but the film surprises us in what it sets up and what it pays off. Because we experience these events with these characters, we share their emotions with them.

In the closing coda we are relieved to find out that after all that has transpired, we still are prepared to feel, and we still want to love.

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