The stars were going to have to align for me to see this. I couldn’t get a read off it from the trailer. It looked gorgeous, but these art house films can be hit or miss for me. Some awards potential, but also potentially too small to be a contender. I was willing to see it if I didn’t hafta go out of my way and if it was free. I didn’t expect it to play at AMC, but I did have a couple Arclight passes I could use. It took a couple of weeks until there was an agreeable showtime, but it happened. The stars aligned. And I’m oh so very glad they did.

I don’t really know how I can explain what this film is about without spelling out every single plot point. The film follows an African American family in the Miami area, who on the surface appear to have everything, but the struggles run deep. The first half revolves around the teenage son building up to a catastrophic event the second follows the teenage daughter dealing with the aftermath. Sounds simple, but it is so complex and rich and absolutely gorgeous.

This film is an undeniable work of art. It’s shot beautifully, and so well put together. Story aside, it’s lovely to just look at and enjoy the images flashing by. I was hooked from the opening sequence that played like a music video while hinting at a deeper meaning. But if you know me, you know that a pretty picture isn’t enough to hold my attention. I need strong characters with a stronger story. That’s exactly what this film delivered.

I’d been hesitant to watch because I thought it’d be all slice of life vignettes, we’ve all seen those. They meander and maybe say a lot but don’t have much through line. This started like that, but before I realized it, it was building to a frenzy. I was holding my breath on the edge of my seat, waiting to burst.

Then the film shifted. It started playing out more in that meandering images way. And then I started crying. Spontaneously. It wasn’t that somebody said something or did something. I just cried. I think it was because I’d expected this particular scene to follow the pattern of the previous ones, and I was caught off guard when the camera panned and revealed a different character. I also think that I’d been holding in all the feelings that the first half of the film had given me, I just needed to emotionally clear the slate if I was gonna get thru the rest of the film. And oh man, that scene where I started crying ended up being one of the most emotional, so the tears kept coming thru it.

I often make the distinction between films that are art and films that are entertainment. This one is certainly the former, but it’s an argument for why artistic cinema is so important.

Waves – \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/