A family tries to rebound from tragedy.
“Waves is the kind of movie that punches you in the gut and then slashes your Achilles as you reach for your stomach,” said Sean Fennessey in TheRinger.com. “Then, as you fall, it catches you in its arms.” A stunning drama about an upper-middle-class black family in Florida, it focuses initially on an 18-year-old who’s pushed by his father (a “hulking, stentorian” Sterling K. Brown) to excel at school and on the wrestling mat. The young man succeeds—until a shoulder injury sidelines him and triggers a downward spiral. The movie “begins with such confidence that I found myself gripped to the seat,” said Benjamin Lee in TheGuardian.com. Once Kelvin Harrison Jr.’s Tyler hits bottom, though, the movie changes focus suddenly to his quiet sister. And though she’s played by an “extremely engaging” Taylor Russell, the tonal shift is so abrupt that the film “never really recovers.” Actually, it’s that “grace-filled” second act that sets Waves apart, said Alissa Wilkinson in Vox.com. It reminds us how radical forgiveness can be because sometimes we are granted it even when we don’t deserve it. This “sounds like hyperbole, but I mean it: You walk out with a weary, cleansed soul.” ■