This one felt strange to me.
First, I would state that the performances in Waves are top notch, especially from Taylor Russell as Emily and Kelvin Harrison Jr as Tyler. Most of the film is shot beautifully and it does have some emotional wallop in the story.
However, it also feels as if the story itself was all over the place. Overlong and erratic, Waves seemed to completely switch the story about two-thirds through the film where the main protagonist is changed and the focus on the film changes dramatically. It was really a strange watch.
The film starts focusing on Tyler, a high school wrestler who seems to have everything, and we see how his life begins to unravel and how these stresses and problems take a toll on his life. His slow descent into anger is difficult to watch as he continued to make poor decisions. Those decisions were taking effects on the people in his life. His overbearing and hard-nosed father Ronald (Sterling K. Brown) is pushing his son hard in every part of his life.
A shoulder injury threatened to end his wrestling. His girlfriend Alexis (Alexa Demie) brings an unexpected problem and everything starts to weigh down Tyler.
There were amazing performances here and there were several real emotional moments. They had some great shots and director Trey Edwards Shults does an admirable job doing things that are outside the box.
I was engaged until the strange shift in the narrative which felt so weird. It dropped what was being a solid film into one where I still liked but found clunky. After the switch, Taylor Russell was still exceptional (she brought a beautiful presence to the screen) and she has a bright future ahead of her. She will be a star. Lucas Hedges was really fantastic too. The problem is theor parts just came out of nowhere. The film never got its flow back after the flip.