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Waves Review

By Ian Crow

‘Waves’ is the latest film to be released by the fast-growing and popular distributor A24. Following in the footsteps of fantastic movies (‘Green Room’, ‘Midsommar’, ‘Moonlight’ and ‘Good Time’) distributed by the American independent studio, all eyes are on ‘Waves’ to see if A24 can keep up their impressive streak of indie hits. This film follows an African-American family in Florida as they all deal with loss and holding high expectations from their demanding father. Tyler (Kelvin Harrison Jr) the eldest child of the family is working his way through the end of high school and wanting to become one of the best wrestlers before going off to college. High demands are made by his Father Ronald (Sterling K Brown) to push him to be his best. The pressure has its price on Tyler’s physical and mental state throughout the film. As Tyler is pushed to his limits, we descend into the struggles of a young athlete competing to be the best and his willingness to do anything to succeed and make his family happy.

Over the years, there have only been a handful of times where a film has really moved me in an emotional way. ‘Waves’ joins that list alongside hard-hitting dramas such as ‘The Light Between Oceans’ and ‘We Need to Talk about Kevin’. Whilst experiencing the film, you physically ride the wave (pardon the pun) of emotions as you watch this normal working-class family experience heartbreak, loss and challenges. Highly unpredictable in tone, the film is rammed with different genres which keeps you guessing as to what is going to happen. It’s a rare drama that we’ve come across that doesn’t stick to the status quo of having one structure like many dramas do. ‘Waves’ acts like a real story and punches you in the gut when you’re not expecting it. Expect to be surprised and shocked at how the story turns towards the darker side and completely flips at the halfway point. In regards to its structure, the only recent film that I can compare it to is Derek Cianfrance’s ‘The Place Beyond the Pines’. ‘Waves’ is similar as we experience multiple stories throughout the film and we see key reactions to particular characters from the outcome of events in the film. We had the greatest privilege to be able to see this film in an empty screen on a Monday evening. This really allowed us to fully immerse ourselves with the characters and the story.

Strong performances across the board help elevate the film even further. Standout performances from Sterling K Brown, Taylor Russell and Kelvin Harrison Jr all help cement the film as one of the best of the year so far. No doubt in our mind that this is one that people will not go and see and will get very little traction in the United Kingdom. If you have some spare time to catch the film and support it in the cinema, then we implore you do. It’s a huge shame that it hasn’t been recognized by the big awards such as the Academy Awards and BAFTA’s as it could easily stroll in the acting categories but with what we guess has little financial backing to make it standout with the rest of the crowd, we’re not surprised it hasn’t been in contention.

Our only gripe with the film itself is that towards the end, it loses its momentum slightly and almost grinds to a halt in comparison to the climatic first half of the film. Apart from that, it’s a wonderful movie which deserves to be talked about more. Spread the word and see ‘Waves’ in cinemas as soon as you can.

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