A thought provoking, extremely well-acted and often emotional film about our actions and the consequences that our loved ones face in the aftermath of those decisions.
The first half of this movie we are introduced to Tyler (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) who seems to have it all, popularity, a great girlfriend, success in wrestling at school and a family. But things are not quite what they seem. Through lingering camera work and a buzzing soundtrack we explore Tyler’s life and meet those nearest and dearest to him. At home, he has an overbearing, pushy father Ronald (Sterling K. Brown) who sees his son as lazy, distracted by his friends and girlfriend, but most importantly believes he does not push himself hard enough. Also Catharine his step-mom (Renee Elise Goldsberry), who is over worked but see’s Tyler for what he is, just a teenager. Goldsberry's scenes of angst are some of the films strongest, conveying true emotion and a sense of absolute loss. Tyler also has a little sister Emily, played by the talented Taylor Russell, who I will come to later.
We see this young man go through life, with his ‘Goddess’ girlfriend Alexis, juggling love, school, wrestling and the repercussions of his actions. Alexis (Alexa Demie) is free spirited, popular and strong young woman, we see her go through emotion after emotion throughout the course of the story. One scene that stands out is an argument with Tyler in the car, one in which you see Tyler in a different light, traces of his overbearing father seeping out through his actions and hurtful words. The acting during this scene is mesmerising, filled with raw emotion, showing characters for who they really are, which includes Tyler, who reveals his true colours with all the pent-up anger and frustration that has built up. His treatment of Alexis and his attitude towards their situation, causes a further downward spiral for Tyler. From stealing his father’s pain killers to drinking. This leads to a heart breaking and shocking scene between a drugged up and drunk Tyler and an innocent and angry Alexis.
This is where Waves begins its second half, and unfortunately it is not as compelling as the first. We now focus on Tyler’s little sister Emily. This is where the film slows down drastically, however we do see some terrific acting from Renee in only a few short scenes. The second half started to drag, but Waves is about the ripple effect, those decisions we make in life, those short moments that shape the rest of life as we know it. Ultimately Emily comes face to face with loneliness and with this the struggle to understand how she got there and what to do next. Until she meets a boy.
Overall, this film is compelling and indeed a force of nature, urging us to confront our actions and live with the consequences. After all, once something drastic happens to us, it is those consequential waves that hit us hard. It is then up to us and only us to deal with how we react to them. Waves is extremely well acted, particularly by the women of the film, but where the story falls short is in the final act, the aftermath.