WAVES’ efforts to recreate the way audiences see black representation in film is beautifully executed in this 2019 drama by Trey Edward Shults.
Starring Sterling K. Brown, (This is Us) Kelvin Harrison Jr. (It Comes at Night) Taylor Russell, Lucas Hedges, Alexa Demie, and Renee Elise Goldsberry, WAVES follows the emotional journey of a suburban African-American family as they navigate through love, forgiveness and coming together in the wake of a tragic loss.
Set in South Florida, Tyler Williams, played by Harrison Jr., is a senior in high school, is on the wrestling team and participates in your typical teen activities but is routinely pushed to be better—sometimes beyond his limits—by his domineering father, Ronald, played by Brown.
But when an injury threatens his wrestling career topped with a life-altering event, things quickly spiral out of control for the young teen, resulting in irreversible damage.
This multilayer film dives into the deep end of black masculinity, the emotional gap between parent and child and the journey of a family as they learn to forgive after a tragic loss.
The Shadow League caught up with actor Harrison Jr. to talk about the importance of this film and his personal journey playing a complex yet relatable character such as Tyler.
Harrison Jr. revealed that having worked with the film’s director before he didn’t hesitate to hop on board on Shult’s latest project.
“When he said that he was wanted to include me in this movie. I was like, yeah, I don’t care what the script is because I just knew he would have integrity about it. And when I read the script, I knew it was something that I didn’t expect. And it had a term that I was not anticipating, Harrison Jr. explained.
“At the same time, I was down for that challenge and that risk, because I knew it was a huge opportunity to really challenge how we see young African-American men and their humanity and what was really driving some of the worst situations in our lives to get to this point.”
WAVES is truly a must-see film of the year. It had its world premiere at the Telluride Film Festival on August 30, 2019, and was released in select films in the United States on November 15, 2019, by A24. Having already received positive reviews, WAVES was chosen by the National Board of Review as one of the ten best films of the year.
“I think that you can see a film about a lot about forgiveness and a lot about forgiving ourselves. I think we put so much pressure as especially as young people and even as the older generation,” Harrison Jr told TSL
“What I found with this movie, too, is that our parents were someone’s son and daughter as well. And just as long as we are in this world. Everyone’s just trying to do their best. And once you humanize them and demystify that thought, that that mystique of what a parent is, you start to kind of go, I can just nurture this connection. And I’m just trying to level with them, just like they’re trying to level with me. Yeah. And I don’t have to be so hard on myself when I don’t have the answers when I don’t know what’s next.”
WAVES is written and directed by Trey Edward Shults and co-produced by Kevin Turen and James Wilson with music by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. This film will be released in theaters nationwide on December 6, 2019. For more on sports and culture be sure to stay connected to The Shadow League.