Matt Hurt’s review published on Letterboxd:
Incredible in its emotional resonance, Waves blew me away with its superb acting and intoxicating style. The film can be broken into a couple standalone parts, each telling a significant story through the respective section's lead character.
Tyler is an 18 year old kid being pushed to achieve greatness by an overbearing father. This relationship bleeds into Tyler's personal life in surprising ways. As such, when he needs input and guidance the most in is his life he has no one to turn to.
Emily, on the other hand, didn't have that pressure nor that relationship with her parents.
In particular, Waves showcases how these two characters react to personal hardships as well as private issues plaguing their significant others. One acts selfishly while the other has compassion.
It's fairly straightforward but the ripples that cascade out from individuals' actions throughout the movie feel organic and honest to the character dynamics in the film. When two characters confide their grief and regret to each other, you feel their pain even though it's just about the only interaction (by design, no doubt) those characters have in the movie.
Waves is about healing and adjusting. It's not an easy story to tell and the film doesn't wrap everything up as neatly as one would expect. Maybe that's the point and the movie is all the better for it. You'll find no complaints from me because I was heavily invested in the movie from start to finish.
The movie does adjust its aspect ratio throughout its runtime. It's an effect that I was on board with at first. But I don't think it was as effective overall as they wanted it to be.