I have not been paid by A24 to do this. I promise! If you live in the DMV, Waves is expanding to our area this weekend, and I urge you to seek it out!
As I’ve mentioned before, I had the pleasure of checking this one out at Middleburg Film Festival, and not only was it my favorite of the fest, but it’s looking like Waves will claim the top spot on my best of the year list.
It’s pretty difficult to talk about Waves without spoilers. What I can say about it is that is an exploration of a traumatic time in a particular family’s life, examining their unraveling then working to rebuild a sense of normalcy connectedness.
This is Writer/Director Trey Edward Shults finest work, and while he’s very young and has only made three features, this one feels like the fulfillment of a promise that he made with his directorial debut, Krisha, of a master filmmaker right on the edge of making a masterpiece. Waves is that masterpiece.
If you’ve listened to Shults speak in interviews, you can tell he is an extremely emotional guy, and that comes across so clearly in Waves. He bares his soul and leaves it all on the screen, crafting one of the most engaging and heartbreaking emotional rollercoasters I have ever seen.
And of course, such a delicate story would not work nearly as well if it was not anchored by such exceptional performances. It’s almost impossible to even pick a standout, because each player in the film’s core family is so pivotal, and each actor’s performance packs such a punch.
The “lead” of the film is Kelvin Harrison Jr., who Shults has worked with before, and this is turning into one of those Director + Actor combinations that I hope continues to work together for many, many years. The character Harrison Jr. plays is wildly complex, and his performance makes the tragedy at the center of the film all the more effective.
The breakout here, however, is Taylor Russell. I had seen Russell in Escape Room earlier this year, and could instantly tell she was talented, but in Waves, she is given a mountainous task, and she hits a home run. It is remarkable, and I feel as though her performance will be one we talk about for a very long time.
And of course, Sterling K. Brown is notorious for being exceptionally great at making us cry, and this may very well be his finest moment. I also want to give a shoutout to Alexa Demie and Renee Elise Goldsberry, whose roles are a bit smaller than the aforementioned three stars, but whose emotional impact on Waves is just as essential as any of the other characters.
So, if you live around Washington D.C., PLEASE make your way out to the E Street Cinema in the city, or the Angelika Film Center in the Mosaic District in Fairfax and support this beautiful movie!