Weather boy’s review published on Letterboxd:
LFF film #20
Vue West End
The definition of a wave is a sudden occurrence of or increase in a phenomenon, feeling or emotion. That’s what Waves is, it’s a ride through a family getting torn apart. But beneath that it’s a story of love, we start with Tyler & Alex their relationship is toxic, it’s manipulative and it’s bound to break. But then, we watch this young, true love blossom. Luke & Emily have the kind of love that can only be produced when the stars align for a perfect matching of people. These are two vulnerable people who needed each other to work themselves out. Trey Edwards Shults makes a smart and easily noticeable decision, as the love between Tyler & Alexis is deteriorating so is the aspect ratio, getting tighter and tighter until the love completely disappears and we now find ourselves in a 4:3 ratio. The opposite happens with Luke & Emily we start there in a tight, closed off aspect ratio but as the two of them open themselves up to each other as does the aspect ratio. The best thing is, we’re given time to grow with the love. Each relationship is given near enough an hour to grow or deteriorate and it helps so much, allows you to invest in each character to grow with them as they do themselves. At times feels like Andrea Arnold behind the camera.
The film has heart, Shults creates a real family vibe between the 4 Williams family members harping back to his Krisha days, we see Tyler be pushed by his father to be a successful athlete, pushed so far that eventually his body can’t take it anymore. Shults again goes back to one of his own films by using the tension building he learnt on It Comes At Night expertly here. If you know the plot you know something is going to happen, you just don’t quite know what. Every time you think you’ve figured out what the main piece of drama is going to be the film flips and doesn’t give you it that easy. Cinematographer Drew Daniels is right out of the Benoit Debie school it seems, using free spins, ultra close ups and drones at will to create this vast world that the Williams live in however the script forces this to be painfully intimate, often long drawn out sequences of dialogue that ask important, difficult questions of characters morals and ethics are ripe throughout.
In the end, Waves will remain important and will act as a point of conversation for a very long time. It shows us that no matter what, your past does not define your future.