“Waves” is Resurfacing

Movie review on the 2019 film: SPOILERS

Sadie Blace, Reporter

Upon scrolling through TikTok one day, I stumbled across snippets of the movie “Waves.” The movie was first released in 2019 and generated millions following its release. “Waves” follows the life of a Black teenager, Tyler Williams, focused on getting to college with a wrestling scholarship. Tyler has a loving girlfriend, a forceful father, and a bright future. The movie follows Tyler as his life quickly spirals downward in the wake of tragic events. Though the movie was released in 2019, it is generating more popularity as it resurfaces and spreads through TikTok.  

As previously mentioned, the movie follows Tyler Williams, a strong willed, Black teenager who has parents that are extremely influential in his decision for his future. Tyler’s father is shown constantly pushing him to apply to colleges, workout, and better himself for the sake of his wrestling career. What his father does not see, however, is the way that Tyler is cracking under the pressure. He has a shoulder injury and is seen in multiple scenes taking painkillers to combat the pain that his father pushes him to work through. As the plot progresses, we are introduced to Tyler’s girlfriend, Alexis Lopez. She realizes that she is pregnant, which causes their relationship to come to a screeching halt. The movie follows how Alexis and Tyler battle to decide the unborn baby’s future. Tyler continues to rapidly downward spiral, pushing himself into a terrifying place and becoming addicted to drugs. The scenes are shot beautifully, capturing Tyler in a place of hurt and vulnerability whilst facing his addiction. He parties, lashes out at his parents, and destroys every relationship that he once possessed. The movie highlights how serious addiction can be, and how quickly it can ruin a life.  

The movie is shot with very intricate cinematography. Scenes are often filmed with little music during dialogue, creating the openness and opportunity to reflect more on the conversation between characters. However, the music that is scored for the scenes includes some of my favorite songs. As the film is more recent and contemporary, it contains music from Kanye, Kendrick Lamar, Frank Ocean, and Tame Impala to name a few. The music helps capture a new, alternative perspective to the challenges that teenagers face. The most beautiful part of the movie was the intimacy that was displayed between the characters and the relationships that they had with one another. Though much of the plot was based on Tyler’s decisions, the second half of the movie shifted to evaluate how his actions affected everyone else. Tyler’s decisions created waves that affected everyone else’s life. The biggest impact that Tyler had was on his sister’s life; Tyler’s sister, Emily, was with him during some of his hardest times. There is a beautiful scene where he breaks down, sobbing on the bathroom floor. Emily comes to his rescue, holding him close to her. The scene is beautiful and intimate, yet extremely heart wrenching.  

As previously mentioned, the second half of the movie follows Emily’s life, as she deals with the consequences of her brother’s actions. The producer of the film, Trey Edward Shults, takes a risky move by switching the protagonist halfway through the film. However, it was done flawlessly. As the film’s perspective shifts, we see Emily falling in love and learning to live for herself. The movie displays how every decision is a wave that affects your future, and your relationship with others. 


Sadie Blace is a Dakota Student General Reporter. She can be reached at [email protected].