Waves ★★★★★

ciff ‘19 #3: (with q&a w/ Trey Edward Shults, Taylor Russell, and Kelvin Harrison Jr.)
“All we have is now.”

I trembled. I felt my hands quake in fear, in anxiety, in sheer utter terror over the images my eyes witnessed. And then a natural smile formed across my face as the movie continued until it ended. It’s been over three hours since the movie ended and I’m still not over this catastrophically mind-blowing masterpiece. It’s officially time to accept Trey Edward Shults as a modern master of cinema. 

In regards to the first half of this film, I will say this: it has to be one of the most viscerally heart-pounding, tension-driven experiences I’ve had in a long time. The blaring soundtrack, the flashing lights, the claustrophobic aspect ratio changes, the raw and heartbreaking events that take place...this is the first film in a long time that accurately portrays the struggles of my generation. I feel like plenty of movies cover the stuff outside of home life (school, friends and such) but it’s really the stuff on the inside that leaves you vulnerable. When THAT happened, my mouth was completely agape. I felt the whole theater gasp collectively. We were one body in that moment. Kelvin Harrison Jr....holy shit. This dude is a revelation. Got to talk to him after the showing and could really tell how attached he was to the role. Renée Elise Goldsberry Is amazing as well, as is Sterling K. Brown. 

And then...the second half comes. I was worried going in that the tonal shift I had heard about would be too jarring, but the second half totally grabs you in the most graceful, beautiful way possible. It picks you up after that emotional sucker punch at the end of the first act and pieces you back together in such a transcendent and gorgeous way. I see so much of myself in the character of Emily, and Taylor Russell really gives a flat-out phenomenal performance here. It’s probably my favorite performance of the year. Russell packs so much emotional resonance in her facial expressions and soft-spoken dialogue. You really feel for her character and the spot she’s put in with her parents, which is where Lucas Hedges comes in. Hedges is hilarious and such a wonderful on-screen presence (“I fuckin’ love manatees!”), but also packs some supreme emotional weight here as well. That ending is...wow. I’m still speechless. 

The soundtrack is a banger. Kendrick, Kanye, Frank Ocean, Animal Collective, SZA, A$AP Rocky, Tyler, Radiohead, Alabama Shakes...I mean, it pretty much speaks for itself. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’ score is flat-out phenomenal, might beat their score for The Social Network for me. Now onto the visuals. The colors in this thing pop off the screen like you’re seeing them for the first time. The cinematography is so, so crisp and breathtaking and lurid and...you all just need to see this film for yourselves. It’s brilliant. I see every character in someone at my school. I see these vibrant personalities, crumbling, dissolving, and then being held and healed and given the chance to feel that they aren’t alone. 

The Q&A with Trey, Taylor, and Kelvin was amazing. I really got to understand some insight into some parts such as the aspect ratio changes and what they personally meant to Trey and the actors. The claustrophobic way the ratio closes in deeper and deeper in the first half and then re-opens itself up in the second is so cool. I also got to talk with them personally after the movie, and Trey and I sort of (?) hugged? I got my It Comes At Night Blu-Ray signed by Trey and Kelvin, too, which was awesome. 

This might be the best movie theater experience I’ve ever had in my life. I’m still in shock. Thank you to Trey, Taylor, Kelvin, Lucas, Renée, Sterling, Alexa, thank you all. This film means so much to me and will continue to do so. 🌊 ❤️

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