Some films truly wash over you and pull you inside an evocative pulse-pounding narrative that pulls on both your senses and emotions. Waves is one of those films. An extremely organic piece of filmmaking courtesy of filmmaker Trey Edward Shults, Waves is a powerfully, evocative piece of cinema that displays real talent not only from its director but from a solid cast who are on top of their game and its release and relevance couldn’t be more timely.
Set against the vibrant landscape of South Florida, and featuring an astonishing ensemble of award-winning actors and breakouts alike, Waves traces the epic emotional journey of a suburban African-American family – led by a well-intentioned but domineering father – as they navigate love, forgiveness, and coming together in the aftermath of a loss. From acclaimed director Trey Edward Shults, Waves is a heartrending story about the universal capacity for compassion and growth even in the darkest of times.
Directed by Trey Edward Shults, in his third feature film, Waves is a powerfully emotional, as well as a timely piece of contemporary arthouse cinema that has a lot to say in its silent narrative and which is delivered to its audience through the power of images and sound. It is not a high concept film, but rather a more intimate affair that aligns itself more to the character study and Shults takes his audience inside the minds and actions of the Williams family in a time of change, stress and maturation. Extremely contemporary with its subject matter, Shults doesn’t hold back from the heavy drama that he delivers to his audience, and this certainly slams into them. For such a young filmmaker he has considerable depth and Waves benefits greatly benefits because of this.
What sets Waves apart is the inspired performances from its young performers, Kelvin Harrison Jr. and Taylor Russell who portray siblings Tyler and Emily Williams, and they give two amazing performances. As Tyler, Harrison Jr. completely ingrains himself into this competitive jock character, who despite all his success carries a large chip on his shoulder and whose self-destructive qualities lead to plenty of shocking moments. Reacting to all of this is Taylor Russell as his sister Emily, and whom in my view steals the entire film with a deeply humanistic performance layered with grief, sadness and complexity. This young actress signals herself out as a tremendous talent and she puts in an amazing performance in Waves.
Giving back up to these two young performers is screen veteran Sterling K. Brown, and once again he gives a performance that is an absolute lesson in the craft of acting. As one of the most capable and versatile performers working in Hollywood today, Brown inhabits the role of the ultra-masculine Williams family patriarch Ronald Williams, whose whole life changes in a blink of an eye, and this before and after quality is not lost on anyone in the audience. Brown’s performance is a powerful exhibition of modern masculinity and the role of the father in our contemporary world and his full range of expression holds the attention of the screen.
Alongside its gripping performances, Waves is a true piece of cinematic art and the cinematography of Drew Daniels is a true marvel to behold! With beautiful attention to focal range, depth of field, and light choice, Daniels paints a beautiful portrait of a cinematic experience that audiences can basque in and these striking visuals hold the audiences attention. Then paired with the mellow, yet haunting soundtrack of Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, Waves elevates itself to a truly artistic experience that washes completely over its audience.
Waves is the real deal when it comes to the seamless interaction of images and sound working together to create art, and with its impressive cast and contemporary story, audiences will get a true cinema experience because of it and should certainly make the time to see it in cinemas.
Image: Universal Pictures