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Movie Reviews

[Tribeca ’21] ‘Waves’ review: So fresh, so clean

Sound and emotion.

Waves is a short film making its online U.S. premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival. The story is about a Black, deaf teen who wants a very specific haircut for his prom. When he arrives at the barber shop, the only seat available is the one everyone seems to be avoiding. Is getting the cut he wants worth the risk of letting an inattentive rookie barber get it done? 

The film makes excellent use of sound. There are the moments when the sound quality is intentional distorted, but the stand out scenes are the ones in which nothing seems to be happening besides conversation. The first introduction to the barber shop is filled people speaking. Everyone is talking over each other and only a few words here and there can be understood. It is a clever way to recreate a hearing impairment using noise. 

This is done throughout Waves in various forms. Another highlight is the aftermath of the haircut. There is a long scene that is nothing but the sound of a brush against hair. It seems innocuous, but it is one of the best parts of the film. The short is also filled with emotion. The teen happens to be deaf and this does play into the story, but it is not the focus. Trust and camaraderie are themes Waves explores. This can be difficult to do in a short time frame, but it is done here perfectly.

The Tribeca Film Festival takes place from June 9 – June 20

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