Accepting one’s mortality is never easy. No matter how busy or important are lives are, there is always the knowledge that it will end in a relatively short period of time. Some ignore it as much as they can while others try to make the most out of their time on Earth. It is a theme that has been explored in many stories in books, television, and movies.
The Wave is a 2019 science fiction movie starring Justin Long. Long plays Frank Winters, a self described soulless corporate lawyer. Frank has become another cog in the wheel at work and is content in his seemingly loveless marriage. After finding a loophole that leads to a promotion, Frank begins to reassess his purpose in life with the help of a hallucinatory drug.
Directed by Gille Klabin, The Wave is one of the most visually unique movies in recent years. It is more than just a trippy drug movie, however. Klabin does a great job of using light, color, and angles throughout the film. Klabin also does not fall into the drug trip movie trap of overusing techniques. The film continues to impress audiences by constantly using different tricks.
The pacing helps keep the audience engaged. After a slow start that borders on tedious, The Wave becomes a frenetic ride. The film jumps between scenes at an almost disorienting rate. (It is once Frank takes the mysterious drug that Klabin’s direction really starts to take center stage.) This is a great story telling idea. Usually, glossing over the minor details can negatively impact a story. Here, it actually adds to the effects of the drug Frank has taken, improving the film.
The story does take a back seat to the visuals, though. At its core, The Wave is your standard time travel movie. The plot sees Frank jump around to various moments of the past two days. He revisits different times trying to figure out why he has been caught in a time loop. As is the norm with the genre, it also gets a little too twist happy in its final moments.
The Wave also visits some interesting, if cliched, themes. The story is basically about a man trying to find out who he really is. Frank’s search to find meaning in his life is made more watchable thanks to Long’s performance. Early in the movie, he has been willingly beaten into submission by life. As the story progresses, Frank learns more about himself.
Long does a wonderful job of displaying Frank’s various emotions. The audience feels pity for Frank after seeing his work and home life. He is convincing himself that he is happy. Long does an excellent job of demonstrating happiness, realization, and acceptance. He also makes Frank a very likable character that is easy to root for. The Wave mainly succeeds thanks to Long.
A drug induced time travel movie is a great vehicle to explore deep questions. The Wave only scratches the surface. It looks fantastic. Director Gille Klabin uses a variety of shots to enhance the bad trip Frank is going through and the sci fi elements of the film. Justin Long does a magnificent job. The two bolster what could have been a paint by numbers movie.