6 November 2019 | richard-1967
Tense, extremely ambitious, not always successful, but a must-see
31-year-old director Trey Edward Shults didn't decide to go modest with his third feature. Waves is a big, broad movie, about many relationships, many deep feelings, many social issues. It doesn't always succeed, but boy, it was worth the effort!
Shults focuses on an upscale African-American family in an affluent suburb in Florida. The son's a HS wrestling star, the daughter is quiet and sweet, the dad's successful but tough on his kids because he knows the cost of success particularly for a black family, and the mom, who's in medicine, is an empathic parent. But this seemingly idyllic set-up is shattered in the first minute by the jumping camera and raucous music. The tension is palpable. Something is going to happen throughout this film, but we don't quite know what. (Fear of the unknown was a hallmark of Shults's other notable film, It Comes at Night.)
So this movie is not for the faint-hearted, but it's got a lot to say. About fathers and sons, parents and children, young love, sharing (or not sharing) secrets, hate, anger, and forgiveness, and the effects that great pain - physical and psychic - have on the soul. Needless to say, with this ambitious an agenda, some things work better than others. Some silly plot errors bugged me, but maybe it just doesn't matter much. Another issue that's been raised: a white director working with a black-centric story; didn't bother me, but it's been talked about. Still, the film is never boring, never static, and never mails it in. Even if 75% of the plot and message works, that was good enough for me. It is NOT easy to watch, but it has a lot to say.
Fasten your seatbelts!