Film Review: Waves

Trey Edward Shults’ Waves is tender, powerful, and finely executed. 

High school wrestler Tyler struggles with balancing practice, family life, and his relationship with his girlfriend. His sister Emily, meanwhile, struggles in the aftermath of a life-changing event…

Focusing on Tyler and his family as he faces pressure from all corners, Waves is a meditative drama. Written and directed by Trey Edward Shults, the film tackles powerful themes within the confines of a teen-focused drama.

The narrative has a definite break, when the focus is pulled from one protagonist and on to another. The first segment feels like a complete film when it reaches its climax. As the second segment begins it is difficult to see where Shults will take his story. As the second part continues, it is absorbing. There is humour to be found in both parts, but the emphasis remains on drama. There are several emotional moments, and each of these is earned by the solid script, good character development, and the filmmaker’s considered direction. 

Camera work in Waves is frenetic to begin with; it does not stop moving for the opening scenes. The pace and range of movement slows in tandem with Tyler’s momentum. It acts almost as a mirror to Tyler’s drive; as aspects of his life spin out of control, the camera slows to meet his level. Later in the film, the camera is more laconic, matching the personality of Emily.

Colour is used to good effect in the film, underscoring the mood and energy at times. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’ score is a brilliant accompaniment to the on screen action. Performances in Waves are great all round. Kelvin Harrison Jr. is completely believable as Tyler. As his life spirals out of control, his frenzy is conveyed in a disconcerting fashion. Taylor Russell is also great; she has great chemistry with Lucas Hedges. Sterling K. Brown is a strong asset as their father.

Shults’ third film illustrates the filmmaker’s considerable skill and adeptness at storytelling. Waves is memorable viewing.

Waves is being screened at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2019. 

Previews: Hellboy Trailer, Pain and Glory, More!

A profusion of films in this week’s preview of coming attractions, including the new Hellboy trailer, Pain and Glory, Mid90s and more…

Hellboy Trailer

Above is the brand new Hellboy trailer. The film is set in England, where the title character has to take on an ancient sorceress. Hellboy stars David Harbour, Milla Jovovich, Daniel Dae Kim, and Sasha Lane. The film hits UK screens on 11th April 2019.

Pain and Glory Trailer

Pain and Glory is the latest film from Pedro Almodóvar. The veteran filmmaker’s latest is about a film director in decline as he experiences a number of encounters from his past. With a cast that includes Antonio Banderas and Penelope Cruz, Pain and Glory will be released in UK cinemas on 23rd August 2019.

Little Trailer

Here is the trailer for Little. The film is a reversal of the Big/13 Going on 30 bodyswap comedy, with the adult being the one who returns to childhood. Little is based on an idea by Marsai Martin, who stars alongside Regina Hall and Issa Rae. The film is directed by Tina Gordon, with a screenplay by Tracy Oliver and Gordon. Little is out at UK cinemas on 12th April 2019.

Rocketman Trailer

Taron Egerton plays Elton John in this new Rocketman trailer. Directed by Dexter Fletcher, the film is a biopic of the legendary singer. Egerton has recorded some of Elton John’s most famous songs for the film, which counts John among the executive producers. Rocketman will hit UK cinemas in May 2019.

Mid90s Trailer

Here is the trailer for Jonah Hill’s directorial debut Mid90s. Hill also wrote the film, which is a coming of age tale about a young boy in 1990s Los Angeles. The film stars Sunny Suljic, Katherine Waterston, and Lucas Hedges. Mid90s will be released on UK screens on 12th April 2019.

The Curse of La Llorona Poster

The Curse of La Llorona is a new horror about a weeping woman caught between heaven and hell. The film counts James Wan among its producers, and is the directorial debut of Michael Chaves. The Curse of La Llorona is set for release on 3rd May 2019.

Lords of Chaos Trailer

Lords of Chaos has been getting rave reviews, as well as some notoriety for how graphic it is. The film tells the semi-true story of the birth of Norwegian black metal with the band Mayhem. Starring Rory Culkin, Emory Cohen, and Sky Ferreira, Lords of Chaos will hit UK screens on 29th March 2019.

Under the Silver Lake Trailer

Under The Silver Lake is the new film from writer-director David Robert Mitchell (It Follows). The film stars Andrew Garfield and Riley Keough. The film is a neo-noir about a man who discovers a mysterious woman swimming in his apartment complex’s pool. Under the Silver Lake will be released at cinemas and on Mubi from 15th March 2019.

Film Review: Manchester By The Sea

Manchester By The Sea

Kenneth Lonergan’s Manchester By The Sea is rich with emotion and so finely executed that it lingers in the mind long after viewing.

After tragedy strikes, Lee is forced to travel to Manchester By The Sea to look after his nephew. Lee is a reluctant caregiver, as he feels closer to his past in the town…

Kenneth Lonergan exhibits a skilfulness in filmmaking and storytelling with the excellent Manchester By The Sea. The film is a masterclass in portraying grief. In spite of the bleakness of the subject matter, Lonergan’s film never becomes mawkish or melodramatic. Instead, it is taut, and subtle in conveying some harrowing incidents.

Writer-director Lonergan tells the story of a haunted man becoming the reluctant guardian of his nephew. The film is littered with flashbacks, which tells the story of Lee’s previous relationship with his nephew, with his brother, and with other members of his family. The film requires the audience to be patient in waiting for more details; these are revealed slowly and effectively. Lonergan’s eschews dropping these for shock value. Instead, these are careful placed, and more effective as a result.

Characters in Manchester By The Sea are so well drawn. Lee enters as a isolated, monosyllabic character. As more is revealed about his past, the reasons for his behaviour become clear. The story is not what some may expect from the film’s premise. What could have been an odd couple style comedy drama in different hands, is an exceptional drama in this case. Casey Affleck delivers an incredibly potent performance as Lee. Lucas Hedges is convincing as Patrick. Michelle Williams and Kyle Chandler provides good support.

Kenneth Lonergan’s mastery is depicting darkness, but drawing this back every so often with naturalistic humour. Manchester By The Sea is a thoroughly convincing portrait of a broken man.

Manchester By The Sea is being screened at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2016.