Riding The Breaker: Our Review of ‘The Wave’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical, VOD/iTunes/DigitalDownload by - January 20, 2020
Riding The Breaker: Our Review of ‘The Wave’

Director Gille Klabin’s The Wave is a bizarre little film that wears its influences on its sleeve (Groundhog Day and Mr. Destiny come to mind). It is frequently a rather surreal visual spectacle, as well as a cautionary tale and a dramedy that explores universal themes, even though it is not as clever as it intends.

Frank (Justin Long) is an attorney whose entire career revolves around citing technicalities to deny his clients their life insurance. When he discovers a way to save his company a large amount of money on a particular claim, he and his best friend Jeff (Donald Faison) decide to go out and celebrate. After meeting Theresa (Sheila Vand) and Natalie (Katia Winter) at a bar, the foursome attend a house party where Frank and Theresa consume an unidentified hallucinogenic substance. Frank awakes the next morning in the now empty house to find his wallet ransacked, his phone dead, and himself having no recollection of anything that happened after he took the drug.

What follows is a mystery story with Frank attempting to locate the now missing Theresa, as well as trying to determine what happened over the course of the evening. All of this takes place while he is simultaneously continuing to suffer the effects of the hallucinogen. It is what I’d imagine one would experience during an LSD trip that is exponentially magnified, with moments of Frank experiencing sublime euphoria along with sequences of abject terror. 

The performances in the film are fairly strong. Faison’s character is mostly played for laughs (very much his brand after Clueless and Scrubs), and Long carries the film rather well. Certainly, he has moments of stoner cheesiness, but when the film takes one of its many dark turns, he proves himself fully capable of handling the more dramatic and emotional beats. The standout of the cast for me was Winter, whom while not having a whole lot of screen-time, makes the most of it with her sarcasm, and her ability to evoke both horror and fury in the same facial expression. 

Visually, The Wave is a mixed bag. There are sequences that are stunning, imaginative, vibrant and frightening, while others look cheap, like a Snapchat filter slapped over the movie. 

While there is nothing wrong with the dialogue, it never comes across as particularly naturalistic or profound. I don’t look to every screenplay for deep, philosophical questions and musings by any means, but it feels like that’s what the film is going for, and it never quite hits that note. 

Further, halfway through The Wave, I was confident that I knew exactly where the movie was going, and that’s precisely where it went. We’ve seen this premise many times in the past (often in arguably better films), albeit rarely presented in such a stylized package.

The Wave has some fun, some humour, some very beautiful and horrific visuals, and enough intrigue to be worth watching. It’s a decent film even though it doesn’t altogether live up to its potential. I applaud that it swings for the fences, but still, I doubt it will change your life in the way it seems to intend.

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