It is hard to tell what, exactly, Waves is about from watching the trailer. With Frank Ocean’s haunting vocals setting a foreboding tone for the work, a series of scenes flash before your eyes: a couple holding each other tightly in the still waters, a lone runner on his early morning jog, and Sterling K. Brown looking uncharacteristically broody.
The family drama, which was produced by the production company behind The Lighthouse and Midsommar, is the story of the Williams family. They’re seemingly perfect on the outside, but a more in-depth look into their idyllic home life reveals that this family is a few loose threads away from falling to pieces. That unraveling starts with their son, Tyler (brilliantly played by Kelvin Harrison, Jr.).
A string of poorly-timed decisions made by the star athlete leaves his parents distraught and estranged, but what appears to be the tragic end of Tyler's story is only the beginning for his sister Emily.
As Emily, Taylor Russell abruptly becomes the lead in the second half of the film, her character's development spurred on by a seriously adorable meet-cute with a boy at her high school named Luke (Lucas Hedges). In the face of her family's grief, Emily slowly finds the courage to take her own path by first taking Luke's hand. Below, Refinery29 has an exclusive look at their first date.
Emily and Luke couldn't be more different, but a special bond is formed between them. Theirs is just one of the many dynamic relationships that are the lifeblood of the breathtaking, and at times paralyzing, plot of Waves.
Each character in the Trey Edward Shults-helmed film is inextricably tied to one another. Like the waves crashing against each other in the ocean, their individual stories have a ripple effect on everyone in their path.
Waves is in theaters now.