WAVES – Review by Susan Granger

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“The road to hell is paved with good intentions” is a proverb dating back to the 11th century’s French Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, who wrote, “Hell is full of good intentions and wishes.”

That’s perhaps the best way to describe Trey Edward Shults’ saga about an upper-middle-class, African-American family in suburban South Florida. Ronald Williams (Sterling K. Brown) is a domineering father who thinks he’s doing all the right things to keep his volatile 18 year-old son Tyler (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) on the right track.

When Tyler decides to become a star wrestler, his demanding dad not only rigorously works out with him, flexing in front of a mirror, but insists that the family, including his wife Catherine (Renee Elise Goldsberry) and Tyler’s younger sister Emily (Taylor Russell), attend every meet.

Feeling his own voice stifled, Tyler keeps a serious shoulder injury secret, stealing his dad’s Oxycodone to help with the pain. And when Tyler discovers his girlfriend Alexis (Alexa Demie) is pregnant, he keeps that secret too.

Shults’ script structure suddenly changes when tragedy occurs. There’s a tonal shift to quiet, teenage Emily’s perspective, as she slowly builds an emotional relationship with a new boyfriend, Luke (Lucas Hedges).

Writer/director Trey Edward Shults (Krisha, It Comes St Night) very slowly builds to the pivotal crisis, weaving a complex web of pain, guilt, love and forgiveness. And some of it was very personal:

“My dad (artist Kelvin Harrison Sr.) is an insanely good musician, so he really wanted me to be the best jazz pianist and trumpet player that I could be. But the practice and performing (proved so rigorous) – that I finally told him, ‘This is not fun anymore. It’s not a hobby; it’s not setting me up for anything. It makes me resent you…and it’s making me resent this craft.”

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Waves” is an overwrought, anguished 6, a domestic melodrama, reflecting parent-child pressures.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.