Review: Waves Directed by Trey Edward Shults

Waves  Directed by Trey Edward Shults; November 2019

Film Shorts


I happen to watch these two movies -- Waves and Freshman Year -- on consecutive days. They happen to have a major plot line in common though they treat it differently. They also have a similar family structure for the main male characters and feature inter-cultural / racial romances. That is where the similarities end and why I am separating the reviews, while recommending you watch the two films back-to-back.

**SPOILERS** - though I'm not sure this will ruin your viewing experience.

I truly wanted to like WAVES because of the aspects listed above and the director really was trying to do an artistic film. This actually became one of the major fault lines. I came away not knowing whether "waves" pertained to light, sound or water. All three elements were featured but lots of meaningless dialogue and pretentious camera work left me confused.

The major problem with Waves is that I hoped it was based on a true story. It really was not. I'm not sure how many more times we can sit through a fatalistic vision of a young black male because he is romantically involved with a white (-adjacent) female. 

To make it even more compelling to viewers, the film gave him a domineering father and a budding substance abuse problem.

After all this goes down, Waves shifted the narrative to his younger sister. She gave a riveting performance in what would have been a great stand-alone film. In case you haven't guessed: yes, she became romantically involved with a white male and true love blossomed. He played white savior to her magical Negress.

Waves doesn't suck but it is problematicAF.

Recommendation: LOW-MEDIUM

Reviewed by Guichard Cadet