I am by no means a film critic, so I’m not going to try to say anything groundbreaking about Waves. I can only talk about how it made me feel. I saw it at Facets Cinematheque in Chicago a few months ago, but it’s still sticking with me, as the powerful ones usually do. I first saw something about this movie last fall when it was part of the Chicago International Film Festival, but I wasn’t able to see it then. Man, was it worth the wait. From the start, with its enveloping soundtrack, it feels a bit like a music video – each vignette making up the whole in a moving, shocking, and intimate way.
While the plot begins by following a teenage boy and his high school experience in a somewhat typical coming-of-age type of way, you quickly realize that it’s a different type of story as you get to know him through his health struggles, the tense relationship with his parents, and the unraveling situation with his girlfriend. Not only does the plot take unexpected twists and turns, but the talent of the actors to convey their inner sensibilities is unlike anything I’ve seen in a long time…not since Blue is the Warmest Color, which I first saw in 2013 when it came out. Waves perfectly encapsulates that devastating, raw, heartbreaking sense of loss that I so loved about Blue is the Warmest Color. I felt this heartbreak throughout the second half of the movie while sitting in that dark, fairly empty movie theater, sitting next to a good friend and fellow film lover, and I continued to feel a sense of sorrow afterward. It’s a profound movie about tragedy and loss and love. So many feels that embody the human condition.