Jacques’s review published on Letterboxd:
a very ambitious, not necessarily bold, but a very ambitious a24 movie. from its narrative juxtaposition and central character/story to each half, it’s largely brain-spinning direction and editing, to it’s attempt to make your tolerance of /r/hiphopheads diminish by the second. it nails it in some aspects and comes up slightly short on others.
it’s a bit of a mess, it’s a bit all over the place. but it’s raw, as raw as you can expect for a film like this so the messiness is almost excused as a key element of the film thereof. it’s a heavy, heavy film with heavy, heavy themes - themes that when explored properly; are dealt with fucking brilliantly, but there aren’t enough of these moments in relation to the movie’s runtime for me to say that they were maximised to their fullest extent. which is why I loved and anticipated the sterling k brown scenes so much, who by the way was extraordinary here. those scenes filled with dread, loneliness, regret, pure self-hatred all within the context of a family that has suffered and inflicted suffering. and then that long-hoped for sense of clarity or closure or peace appears, though it may not last long, gives you enough strength to keep on living your life.
my main complaint about Waves, is that it suffocates you with its different elements. I feel like i’m literally drowning with no room for air. maybe that’s the intention, to showcase how hectic unchecked adolescence and life in general goes by, and how far it can fall downhill with a series of life changing decisions especially with the pressures of being a young student-athlete. but more times than not I felt nauseous at some of what I was watching. the soundtrack, while I am appreciative of these songs, becomes growingly overbearing when it is all you’re constantly hearing, with minimal breathing space between those powerful scenes, and at one point feels disruptive to the plot flow in general. let the plot breathe man. same goes for the strobe lights and rotating camerawork that are peppered throughout like parsley, used to an extent much further than what they’re good for. beautifully useful for some scenes, very unnecessary for others. style is preferred over substance in some cases.
despite my complaints, the essence of this movie was there. the substance is still there. it’s about Real Shit. and I love movies about Real Shit. it had a heart and soul, no matter how dark and murky it got, it was still always there. seeing the emotions and experiences of two young teen siblings, their traumas and their relation to everything surrounding them via the eyes of each of them made for some uniquely painful but beautiful content. what could’ve been? isn’t the question to ask anymore, but instead what will be? cherish the things that make you you no matter what, while you still have them at your reach, even after that rainy day has come.
Taylor Russell is a star. a cutie.