Waves ★½

Waves is more abrasive than it is bold. Its bombastic visual style dampens the impact of the film rather than elevating it, as a frequently swirling camera and too-vibrant colors render every emotion as overblown. We get the story in pieces -- mere fragments that cannot be adhered. Some of it works, and some of it really doesn't, but the jarring pivots between each piece make the whole experience feel rocky; this is only exacerbated by the sudden and frequent aspect ratio changes, calling an intense awareness of the form itself rather than its story. The omnipresent soundtrack is clearly fundamental to the goals of the film, but it leaves the main storyline feeling like an afterthought. Certain sequences play out as lovely music videos out of context, but they hurt the dramatic tension of the actual narrative with their seemingly random, ungraceful inclusion. I’ve seen and liked Shults’ previous work, but Waves is an amalgam of his worst creative choices.

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