3 out of 5 stars
The ocean is a beautiful thing to behold. Seeing the sheer power of the water as it continually crashes against the coast is lovely and terrifying at the same time. The waves are mesmerising and impossible to stop, something that is similar to our lives. We all experience the waves of life. The beautiful and brutal waves that keep coming and we are incapable of stopping them washing over our lives.
Tyler Williams (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) seems to live a charmed life in South Florida. As he travels through his final year of high school, all he sees is a future of promise and hope. He has a beautiful girlfriend named Alexis (Alexa Demie), who adores him and a close-knit family that provides for his every need. Then to add to his life, this promising young man seems to be on his way to becoming a champion wrestler. Ronald Williams (Sterling K. Brown) pushes his son to the highest of physical standards and shows his love for him by giving him all he needs to succeed. Then outside of his family, he and Alexis enjoy their life of parties, friends and dreaming of the future. They both seem to live an idyllic life for a young couple who are just getting their lives started.
Behind the public persona, there is a different reality that only exists for Tyler, because he has not told his family that he has suffered 5 SLAP tear in his shoulder. The pain he experiences each day has led him to steal his father’s pain medication. As he tries to hide this secret from everyone who loves him, the aspiring athlete seems to keep up appearances until he is severely injured in a wrestling match and becomes unable to compete. As he works through the end of his athletic career, Alex shares with him that she is pregnant. The combination of these traumatic events and the pressure from his father to succeed leaves him desperate and devastated. Then his eventual addiction to the opioids leads him to drastic and violent measures that will send waves through everyone's lives that cause irreparable harm.
Trey Edward Shults' film manages to portray the beauty and brutality of the realities of a family's life that struggles with the realities of drug addiction and grief. He proves that money and success do not guarantee a pleasant existence, but manages to show that time can begin to heal the wounds we all endure. These painful moments can leave behind scars to remind us of what we have gone through and cause us all to ask the question, ‘What might have been?’. This proves to be an artistic journey that may not be appreciated by the average viewer. Shults’ way of viciously ripping back the facade of the human condition and exposing the best and worst of the hearts of humanity.
This visual spectacle utilises various angles and filming styles that become part of the story itself. Shults uses multiple techniques that proved an uncomfortable personal experience that will leave most audience members exhausted in the end. The cast convincingly immerses themselves in the pain and grief that comes with each wave of trouble. They show how families look for anything to hold onto as they endure ripple effects of each emotional, spiritual and physical trial.
Waves is not a film that anyone would enter into lightly. Despite being an artistic adventure into the darker side of life, it is one that may leave audiences with a certain degree of post-traumatic stress. This is a story that manages to depict the realities of life, but not allowing much hope for anyone who endures this level of pain.
REEL DIALOGUE: Are we alone on this journey called life?
Trey Edward Shults does interject a certain spirituality into his work by including the love passage out of 1 Corinthians 13. Love gets thrown out as being the answer to all of the problems in the lives of the Williams family. Yet, each of the family members becomes more isolated from one another as opposed to being unified.
Isolation can be a physical reality, but for many it is truly a state of mind. We can seek out solace in personal relationships or through technology, but these things do eventually have limited satisfaction.
This profoundly philosophical query can be answered by saying that God is there for us at all times. The answer for mankind is to merely turn around and acknowledge His presence. During times of joy or loneliness, God is there for us and provides a relationship unlike any other.
Where do you start? Begin with the first book of the New Testament - Matthew 28:20 - ‘behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age’ and then go back to the beginning of the story and introduce yourself to the person of Jesus. Matthew
You may realise that you were never really alone and you never need to feel that way again...