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As the title suggests, this film moves like the waves, both technically and taste. Waves reminded that Trey Edward Shults who gave birth to out-of-the-box works through Krisha (2015), was still keen to explore and break the boundaries of storytelling, after It Comes at Night (2017) which was more like an attempt to become a hipster.

Through the camera arrangement directed by his cinematographer, Drew Daniels, Shults packed a wave-like opening in the ocean. The camera rotates 360 degrees, occasionally moves wildly, occasionally slows down, even when just highlighting the smartphone screen, there are still movements like small ripples. We can also feel how rich and dynamic the life of the main character, a popular high school student and wrestling athlete named Tyler (Kelvin Harrison Jr.).

His wrestling career is great, making sports scholarships from famous universities seems to be just a matter of time. Although his father, Ronald (Sterling K. Brown), who was a former athlete, often put too much pressure on him, his stepmother, Catherine (Renée Elise Goldsberry) made Tyler not lack of affection. Moreover, his love affair with Alexis (Alexa Demie) was in a fierce heat. Best Movie Site

Tyler’s life was perfect at a glance, even though there were actually some seeds of problems that were ready to overflow. As a result of often pushing himself, Tyler’s shoulder suffered SLAP injuries (Superior Labral Tear from Anterior to Posterior) Tear level 5 aka the worst level. Depressed, Tyler was actually lectured by Ronald, who said, “Do you think you only have problems ?!” He also chose silence, keeping the injury a secret. At the same time, Alexis found that she had been late for three weeks.

Then everything that is feared happens. Tyler was injured in the middle of the match and his wrestling career was ruined. Instead of raising the morale of his son, Ronald blamed it. The father is reluctant to listen, the child refuses to talk. Likewise, about Alexis pregnancy. Tyler insisted on forcing an abortion without caring about his girlfriend’s perspective. Waves raised the importance of the process of speaking and listening in openness. The whole conflict comes because of his character refusing to “put his ear” while letting the ego control him. Movie Review

Waves are not made so that the audience sympathizes with the protagonist, remembering that over time, Tyler is increasingly devastated and increasingly ignorant. Waves’ goal is to make us share the same pain and anxiety. Shults like carrying us across the fierce waves, which can change from presenting a sense of tightness, then relief, only to suddenly throw a wound.

The dynamics of emotions are represented by the visuals. Drew Daniels jelly played with colors, whether it was Tyler’s blue walled room decorated with a ray of sunlight entering through the red-green-blue curtains, the night studded with neon lights that, although vibrant, still seemed dark, to the dark blue that colored the sea at dusk. But the most striking and memorable of course is how Shults combined four aspect ratios (some say five, but I only found four, as well as data from IMDb) in his film.

Opened with a standard ratio of 1.85: 1, the picture narrows when Tyler’s pressure gets greater (to 2.35: 1, briefly becomes 2.67: 1, then ends at 1.33: 1). What happens after the aspect ratio hits the 1.33: 1 format where the protagonist reaches its lowest point? That’s when Shults made an unexpected decision regarding the direction of the story. Waves enters the second round, passing the focus to Tyler’s sister, Emily (Taylor Russell), changing from a series of shattering stories to constructive. And guess what? The aspect ratio is slowly returning to normal.

Dividing the plot into two rounds with opposite focus, indicates how Shults did not underestimate the process of healing a wounded heart. Even though it doesn’t keep surprises like the first half, plus the slackening intensity because we can already guess the pattern that the film is going to take, it’s still fun when a series of pains that previously hit endlessly began to be washed away by positive emotions. Top Movie

Do not want to lose from the visual department, the sound system of this film is also good at representing taste. Starting from the painful sound effects when Tyler was injured, as well as the director’s choice of music consisting of rap numbers, R&B, to electronic pop that sounded atmospheric (not a surprise if there was Radiohead). While in the cast, the trio of Kelvin Harrison Jr., Taylor Russell, and Sterling K. Brown managed to pour raw emotions that effectively gripped the hearts of the audience.

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