Waves is now showing in cinemas nationwide.
Undoubtedly his most bold and ambitious film to date, director Trey Edward Shults’ new film Waves oozes creativity, emotion, and power. Shults embraces his audience with a kaleidoscope of colour, sound and movement in a sweeping family drama that holds moments of devastating emotion and youthful joy.
Waves is split into two halves, focusing on a single year in the life of the Williams, a middle-class black American family. The first focuses on Tyler’s life (Kelvin Harrison Jr.), and the second on his younger sister Emily (Taylor Russell). But surrounding these individual journeys is the life of their loving stepmother (Renee Elise Goldsberry) and their stern but loving father (Sterling K. Brown). Our story opens with Tyler, a young and highly gifted student who loves sports and music equally. However, as his father relentlessly pushes him to become the best athlete and man he can be, fractures begin to show.
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As Tyler’s life spins out of control through injury and relationship problems, he finds himself unable to speak to his family – the ripples of his anger circling each family member as family life changes during one explosive night. Here Shults dovetails the classic coming-of-age themes with a far more nuanced discussion on diversity and oppression. Many viewers may see the blame for the disastrous events surrounding Tyler as a product of toxic masculinity and detachment from his father, but the roots stretch much deeper. Here Shults weaves a tale of endemic racism and social oppression, with both parents determined to ensure their children rise above their skin colour’s forced limitations.
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Built around the dramatic events of its third act, Waves flows with the emotional turmoil, reconciliation and healing born from a single night. Here Shults adjusts aspect ratios throughout, portraying a world that is both expanding and contracting. At the same time, rhythm and colour represent the ripples of cause, effect and outcome. But Waves becomes a truly stunning work of cinematic art when this visual dynamism is dovetailed with a score that ebbs and flows with the mood on screen. Many will compare Waves to the recent work of Barry Jenkins, and these comparisons are, in part, justified. However, this film also treads its own unique path in design and delivery as it flows with sincerity, love, meaning and dramatic excellence.
Director: Trey Edward Shults
Cast: Taylor Russell, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Alexa Demie, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Sterling K. Brown