Meech Movie Review
This movie starts with a 360° visual from the center of the car, of a “young and free” couple, roaring down the highway. The camera angle is almost like a carnival ride that gets you excited, but also has you feeling a bit uneasy which this movie will most certainly have you experiencing. “Waves” is the type of movie you rarely come across that is a roller coaster of emotions. One moment the audience may be bursting with laughter and the next you may see one person crying, while the other behind you is furious. Trey Edward Shultz’s tense film portrays the unraveling life of an African American family as it deals with forgiveness, hope and tragedy.
“Waves” is a psychological thriller about how important our choices are and how it impacts those around us. Shultz is able to build suspense through this film where you may never really know where it’s headed until you’re there. Then it makes you look back and question “how did we get here?” It’s tension at times is an all time high that never seems to let up.
The first half of this film follows an unstable teen Tyler (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) as he clashes with his strict and masculine father Ronald (Sterling K. Brown), whom pushes him to be the best at anything he does. Whether it is wrestling or using a more expanded vocabulary, Ronald has high expectations of his son. Tyler’s only outlet is from his girlfriend Emily (Alexa Demi) who is a party going, living in the moment type of young lady. At first, these two are your typical love birds. They party every night together, take trips to the beach, living as carefree as possible to enjoy each moment that they spend together.
Tyler constantly feels over shadowed by his father Ronald and is yearning to make his own mark in the world. One may call Tyler the kid whom “has it all”, but all is definitely not as it may seem. He’s built like a brick house, has the cool blonde hair, the all American girl and lastly has excellent skills in the sport of wrestling, which he unwaveringly dedicates himself to, day in and day out. When it comes down to his official wrestling matches, his father is like a hawk in the stands looking over his son as if he is telepathically reminding his son what he has taught him on the mat.
Ronald is surely hard on his son, but he feels he needs to be because of his skin color. It’s never explained exactly how Ronald was brought up but he takes a lot of pride in being able to afford a house in the suburbs for his family and lives a pretty stable and comfortable lifestyle. Because of this, he knows Tyler may be vulnerable so he makes sure he lets his son know that life doesn’t come easy. Tyler is aware of his fathers advances and the way he is constantly challenged. Tyler gets his first true test in life in the form of an injury to his right shoulder which threatens his wrestling future.
When this injury leaves his commitment to the sport in jeopardy is when he realizes his world may soon come falling down. When things start to get darker and darker is when you can see the hopelessness fade away for Tyler right before our very eyes. He starts to lash out on his entire family and his high school sweetheart. Instead of reaching out for help he begins to self medicate with drugs and alcohol. This leaves Tyler in making irrational and impulsive decisions so devastating that it will change the narrative of this families life.
In its second half, “Waves” shows the repercussions of Tyler’s outburst, and views the ongoing neglect upon his reserved younger sister Emily (Taylor Russell). In the first half she is mostly in her own world, she is quiet and hardly has any words for her classmates or even her parents for that matter, shes begins to open up when greeted by the upstanding guy Luke (Lucas Hedges). He has in a way opened her eyes to the world again where she starts to gain confidence in herself and that all hope may not be lost.
Emily’s story compared to her brother Tyler’s is like night and day. “Waves” began as a life on the edge point of view from a young troubled man, and it goes into a more simple story approach in search of closure. Luke has family troubles of his own kind when he and Emily go visit his father dying of cancer in the hospital that has made Emily reconsider the relationships she shares with her own parents.
This film takes away your breath so many times you might as well be suffocating. It puts a whole new stamp on your typical “teen drama” genre. It’s that type of film that will punch you in the gut and then kiss you softly on your forehead. It’s almost remarkable how many times your mood may change during the viewing of this movie. You should never have too much pride to ask for help because one way or another eventually we all need someone to lean on when times go astray. Kelvin Harrison Jr. is truly a force to be reckoned with. His portrayal as Tyler almost makes you feel for certain you aren’t watching a movie, but an actual biopic. Sterling K. Brown delivers a solid performance that will have you saying “geez he sounds just like my father”. Taylor Russell is what most teen girls and young women living next door to us are. That shy and reserved young woman, that as Emily eventually blossoms in to the beautiful and strong character that she was always meant to be.
Meech Movie Reviews grades this a STRONG “B+!” “WAVES” is playing now at a theater near you!