Review: Let 'Waves' wash over you
Featuring stunning performances and in the hands of a confident master craftsman, sometimes all you need is a good story, some good actors and a good director to make something great.
There is not a shallow spot to be found in "Waves," a film about a family that overcomes some serious struggles. Its writer/director, Trey Edward Shults, is one of the most fascinating and interesting newcomers in Hollywood, whose first two films, "Krisha" and "It Comes At Night," have made major, um, waves. He plunges us head-first into "Waves," a movie that looks to make more than just a splash as we enter awards season.
Two of the best and brightest young actors going right now anchor this emotionally-charged drama. Kelvin Harrison Jr. (who recently turned heads in "Luce,") and Taylor Russell (who was just named the "Breakthrough Actor" of the year at the Gotham Awards) play brother and sister, Tyler and Emily. They're normal teenagers by all accounts, with the first half of the film centering on Tyler and the latter half on Emily. Renée Elise Goldsberry and "This Is Us" star Sterling K. Brown are their loving, if overbearing at times, parents.
Tyler is a promising star wrestler, and we can tell that his Dad is pushing him, maybe just beneath the level of what would be considered unacceptable. He has a nagging shoulder injury that he keeps quiet about, for fear that it would derail his hopes and dreams. But he's derailed in an unexpected way, when his serious girlfriend, Alexis (Alexa Demie) confides in him that she's pregnant. Tyler's life gets beyond complicated, until his suppressed anger nearly ruins himself and his family.
When the film begins to focus on his kid sister Emily, the audience and this family are left to pick up the pieces in the wake of a serious tragedy. Enter Luke (Lucas Hedges), a teammate of Tyler's who has an eye for the coy Emily. Like waves pounding on a shore, the movie deals with the ebbs and flows of life, the highs and lows of which can feel both exhilarating and can leave you gasping for air.
There is great flow, great balance given to this movie that might not have been achievable by a lesser director at the helm. And if you don't know who Kelvin Harrison Jr. or Taylor Russell are, don't worry...you will soon enough. Both of them are absolutely electrifying and show that they are more than capable of carrying the film's heavy emotional themes.
"Waves" will sneak up on you, and will knock you over. It's one of the year's best films, and should turn the tide of awards season.
Genre: Drama, Romance.
Run Time: 2 hours 15 minutes.
Starring: Kelvin Harrison Jr., Taylor Russell, Sterling K. Brown, Alexa Demie, Lucas Hedges, Renée Elise Goldsberry.
Written and Directed by Trey Edward Shults ("Krisha," "It Comes At Night").
"Waves" is in theaters on Friday, December 6th, 2019.
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