Manohla Dargis, who names Waves as a critics pick, writes about Waves:
The camera doesn’t just move in “Waves,” it hurtles with terrific urgency. As you’re swept up in the immersive motion, the kinetic energy, you notice the passing beauty of the images, their compositional elegance. Mostly, though, you just try to keep up as voices boom and the camera pushes in, pulls out, flows in circles or sprints forward. This great whoosh creates a contact high even if, as one shot rapidly gives way to another, it feels as if time is running out.
And places the film well in film history:
Like Barry Jenkins, the Safdie brothers and Robert Eggers, Shults belongs to a group of young American expressionists who, despite the differences in their subjects, share a commitment to visual storytelling. (Dee Rees’s “Pariah” falls into this camp, too.) Words remain crucial for these filmmakers, of course. But they use visual style to express inner worlds, and show interiority instead of explaining it, unlike some of their chattier, more TV-ready peers. Cinematic expressionism is most associated with German film of the 1920s, but can be found across genres and in the work of artists as diverse as Martin Scorsese, Claire Denis, Tony Scott, Terrence Malick and Gaspar Noé.
And Candice Frederick, writing for The Wrap:
To call “Waves” a pressure cooker would be underselling it. Shults provocatively examines black masculinity and the burden of living up to a societal standard, as well as a parental one. He accomplishes this through the story of Tyler (Harrison), a high-school star wrestler who initially seems like an average teenage boy. He has a cute girlfriend, Alexis (Alexa Demie, “Euphoria”). He parties, does some drugs — but apparently not enough to throw him off his wrestling game, God forbid. And like many young men, he shakes off a potentially life-altering shoulder injury as a sign of weakness. Because that would be unacceptable.
My review of Waves is here.
And here is Megan’s wrap-up of the films she saw in Savannah, Waves among them.