The Wave opens nationwide in theaters and on VOD January 17th, 2020. I watched it as soon as I was sent the screener. Starring Justin Long, Tommy Flanagan, Donald Faison, the cast is what appealed to me. I like Justin Long. I’m also a mild fan of Donald Faison from his days in Scrubs the TV series.
The distributors are Epic Picture Group with the movies’ production from Echo Wolf Productions. If you’ve never heard of the film, the teaser trailer is below. It starts with a voiceover about being caught in a dream. There is lots of drug-taking and alcohol consumption and it immediately presents itself, describing the wave as when the drugs kick in. Yes, it’s that type of film. As a side note, whether or not this is a film to recommend watching under the influence, I’m not sure. But if that sort of thing floats your boat, have at it. There is certainly a pretty good soundtrack to go with the pictures on the screen.
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Directed by Gille Klabin The Wave marks his directorial feature-length film debut. He did make a documentary in 2011 and plenty of short films. The film’s writer Carl W. Lucas also wrote Illegal back in 2010.
For a film about being on a bad trip, it’s fairly easy to follow. There’s a predictability to the events that you will either love or hate. The story manages some great laugh out loud moments. Characters are enjoyable in their places and many are easily relatable. Cinematography is an event in itself. The narrative switches between reality to hallucination to dreamscape from time to time. Lots of hints and clues would be easier to see with a second viewing and I’d definitely love to do that.
Frank leads the tale which begins with his backstory. A big promotion is coming his way, but he’s seemingly sold his soul to get it. His life is an outer shell of perceived perfection and the drugs serve to crack the facade as wide open as it will go. I’d like to relate it to other cathartic tripper movies but there is plenty of unique content here interspersed with familiar tones. Everything Frank does is underpinned by his decision to throw a family under the bus as his job as an insurance lawyer. It’s this very same decision combined with other life choices that allow his journey to transpire and the whole thing snowballs out of control until Frank decides if he wants to stay on the path he is on.
What I loved about this film was the choice of events it uses to get Frank from A to B. Most of the time the navigation centers around Frank trying to locate his lost wallet and lost-girl he met at a bar, Theresa. At times it will seem confusing as the pieces fall into place. For me, there were one too many floaty dreamscapes Theresa (Sheila Vand). The film creates an oasis of sorts with a handful of scenes overlaying that prophetic ambiguous dialogue films like this seem to go for. It made for some pretty scenery but most mostly unrequired.
Overall, I liked The Wave. I enjoyed its ethos of changing your life course by forcing you to look at what your life is really like.
I give The Wave
3.5 universes trying to tell you something out of 5