The best advice we received about Trey Edwards Shults’ emotional drama, WAVES, ahead of our screening of it was to avoid reading too many details, and to go in as blind as possible. It’s a tense and tumultuous family story, and it packs a series of devastating surprises that you will not want to know about before you sit down.
The Williams family is a recognizable American unit, with caring but busy parents (Sterling K. Brown, Renée Elise Goldsberry) and two opinionated teenagers. The story initially focuses on Tyler (Kelvin Harrison Jr.), the teenage wrestler who is juggling school work, a loving girlfriend and a shoulder injury that could disrupt his whole world.
But Trey Edward Shults harbors real intentions of unfolding his drama beyond Tyler’s universe, and the way that he manages to do this is part of the reason why WAVES makes for a special evening at the movie theatres.
Could the movie make waves (sorry for the bad pun) with the Academy? We believe it has a real chance. Even in a crowded field, the Academy — and the actors’ branch, in particular — recognizes stellar performances, and WAVES is carried by multiple standouts in a powerful ensemble. Kelvin Harrison Jr. worked with Shults previously on IT COMES AT NIGHT, but grows into his own as the troubled teen trying to find his place in a difficult time.
As the father of the household, Sterling K. Brown borrows a few of his cues from the emotional drama of "This Is Us." And the second half of the movie falls on the shoulders of young Taylor Russell, who delivers a jaw-dropping portrayal.
WAVES is exactly the type of movie that we celebrate this time of the year, a mature and thought-provoking character study that trades in emotions over special effects, but still has a deep affect on the audience. There’s a reason that we go to a theatre to experience these roller-coaster rides of emotion with like-minded audiences. It’s cathartic. It’s a gift. That’s WAVES.
Trey Edward Shults’ new movie, WAVES, is now playing at an AMC near you. Check for showtimes and tickets.