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#TIFF19 Review: Waves (Special Presentations)

September 14, 2019

By John Corrado

★★★★ (out of 4)

Tyler (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) is an all-American teenager who has the façade of a perfect life. He’s on his high school’s wrestling team, and has a steady girlfriend, Alexis (Alexa Demie). But his father (Sterling K. Brown) pushes him a little too hard, keeping him on a gruelling training schedule. Tyler starts to crack under the pressure and abuse prescription drugs, leading to a shocking turn of events.

The third film from director Trey Edward Shultz, following up his acclaimed debut Krisha and his divisive horror film It Comes at NightWaves is an electric piece of filmmaking that is frequently bold and audacious in its stylistic choices. The film switches aspect ratios at different points in the story, a device that works brilliantly in harmony with the material. Cinematographer Drew Daniels is in complete command of his craft, using lighting and framing choices to immerses us in the world of the film, with his camera often spinning around to dizzying effect. The film’s sonic landscape is equally all encompassing, featuring a rap-heavy soundtrack that is tied together by a new score from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross.

The narrative structure is also unique, with the film’s first and second halves both feeling distinct. The first half is pure exhilaration, sending us hurtling towards a startling middle sequence that gives way to the second half, which is much quieter as it focuses on healing. In addition to Harrison Jr.’s star turn in the lead, Waves also features brilliant supporting work by Brown, and strong turns from Taylor Russell as Tyler’s sister and Lucas Hedges as another classmate. This is a very dark and powerful drama about the before and after of tragedy, that keeps going unexpected places. It pulsates with brilliant uses of sound and colour, including amazing music and stunning cinematography.

Public Screenings:

Tuesday, September 10th – 8:45 PM at Ryerson Theatre

Wednesday, September 11th – 6:00 PM at Scotiabank Theatre

Saturday, September 14th – 10:00 AM at Winter Garden Theatre

Sunday, September 15th – 2:45 PM at Ryerson Theatre

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