Waves. Movie Review.

The benefit of Cineworld putting on so many Unlimited screenings and having seen a majority of the new releases in advance is that it gives you the opportunity to catch some of the smaller releases that you know are only going to be around at your local multiplex for a week. This was the case with Waves. All I knew about it going in was that it was an A24 film (so it was likely to offer something interesting) and Sterling K Brown(one of my favourite actors) was in it. What did I find?
Certainly something interesting. Waves is a massively ambitious mess but that’s not to say there aren’t things to recommend. It’s best described as a sprawling portrait of suburban African American family told from two distinct perspectives. It’s definitely the sort of thing certain A24 fans will lap up with it’s multiple changing aspect ratios (almost as many as the last Michael Bay Transformers film) and incredibly strong central performances. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross or on superb form delivering a score that’s very on brand and effective within the film.
That said the films messy elements always shine through even among the things that are recommendable. The film doesn’t know it wants to be a grounded slice of life narrative, a Euphoria style mood/vibe piece or a family melodrama and ends up falling in a bizarre middle ground between all three. The Euphoria comparison especially goes beyond the fact that Alexa Demie (Maddie from Euphoria) play a critical role in the plot and is more about the very similar aesthetic of the many teenage party scenes.
The film then heads in a direction I certainly wasn’t expecting to finish off the first half pulling off the same aspect ratio twist from Amazon’s Homecoming in reverse (in terms of a particular aspect ratio change and what it signifies.) The end of this first half is so striking that the film could have ended there and I would have been satisfied. Not to say the second half is bad (it’s still incredibly well acted and solidly engaging) but switching perspective offers nothing as effective compared to the first half.
I found Waves a very frustrating watch. It’s incredibly well acted and has more than enough stuff to recommend it if you’re into this type of indie drama but the second half of the film is nowhere near as effective as the first half and in general the film ma doesn’t know what it’s audience is is caring across several tones and styles. That said as shown by the IMDb and certain critic scores there’s a contingent of people out there that love the film and and when looking at particular elements I can certainly see why.
7/10

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