Culture Crash 19-49: Diving Into The New Movie “Waves”

Culture Crash 19-49: Diving Into The New Movie “Waves”


Dizzying colors, aspect ratio changes, and a compelling score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross put the finishing touches on a swing-for-the-fences, East of Eden-esque epic about a generation of kids with access to previously unfathomable technology and a constantly mounting pressure to excel in everything they attempt. The resulting film is fully human, completely devastating and undeniably affecting.

Culture Crash 19-49


Welcome to Culture Crash, where we examine American culture – what’s new and old in entertainment.

The new movie, Waves from writer/director Trey Edward Shults begins by throwing its audience into the quite literally, dizzying world of a high school student. The camera spins around his car as he and his girlfriend drive to school, singing at the top of their lungs, then follows him as he runs laps at wrestling practice. When he executes a takedown move in a wrestling drill, the camera follows him through the motion, fully immersing its viewers in the frenetic energy of being 18 years old.

What follows is a harrowing, emotional, disturbing journey into the lives of two teenagers. The expert camera work and an incredible playlist of songs takes the audience into the minds of its two main characters. When things are good, Animal Collective, Frank Ocean, Chance the Rapper and more allow the viewer to access the exciting, light, fun emotions of the movie’s teen characters. But when things go south – and they go very south – the music follows, descending into a meltdown narrated by some of the more chaotic entries from Kanye West and Kid Cudi. High bass and screaming vocals intensify the anxiety before everything does dark in a moment of panic.

Waves is shocking and upsetting and truly a cinematic experience to behold, and a large reason why is that the camera and the music combine to thrust audiences right into the moment. Dizzying colors, aspect ratio changes, and a compelling score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross put the finishing touches on a swing-for-the-fences, East of Eden-esque epic about a generation of kids with access to previously unfathomable technology and a constantly mounting pressure to excel in everything they attempt. The resulting film is fully human, completely devastating and undeniably affecting.

I’m Evan Rook. 


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