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'Waves' Review With Casey

Movie poster for Waves
A24 Films


Writer-director Trey Edward Shults (It Comes at Night, 2017) is successfully spreading his roots in telling interesting, rich, current stories. Waves is Shults' latest entry in the independent film canon, and like a hot slice of lasagna, it is layered, filling, and wonderful. 

Waves is a family drama centered on a teenage son and his younger sister who navigate love, addiction, a demanding father, and the pressures of growing up surrounded by vibrant glaring colors in sunny Florida. (With some of the colors coming from police cars.) But in the wake of a frenetic tragedy, the film explores how the actions of one family member create a devastating ripple effect in the lives of the whole family. Waves is not so much an emotional roller coaster as it is an emotional road trip in that it takes its time showing the shifts in family feelings and relationships. (The shifts are sometimes gradual and sometimes very immediate.) And also like a road trip, this family's journey makes wrong turns, pit stops, arrivals, and departures.


All four main actors give such authentically raw performances, every viewer will run the risk of getting their heart broken from watching this (much like being in a real-life family). Everyone's emotions are bursting under the surface as they strain to keep to keep themselves together. Waves originally premiered as a limited released in November of 2019 and is now available through Redbox and selected personal streaming platforms.


Family is important. But so are mistakes, arguments, support, and forgiveness. A family might not be as strong without all of those things. Waves is a poetic, honest, hopeful, and swirling reminder of family complexity and fragility. It's one of the best examples of contemporary African-American lives (and acting) I've seen on screen in the past year.