172 user 153 critic

Waves (2019)

1:08 | Trailer
Traces the journey of a suburban family - led by a well-intentioned but domineering father - as they navigate love, forgiveness, and coming together in the aftermath of a loss.


Trey Edward Shults
1,877 ( 143)
14 wins & 39 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Kelvin Harrison Jr. ... Tyler
Lucas Hedges ... Luke
Taylor Russell ... Emily
Alexa Demie ... Alexis
Renée Elise Goldsberry ... Catherine
Sterling K. Brown ... Ronald
Krisha Fairchild Krisha Fairchild ... English Teacher
Neal Huff ... Bill
Clifton Collins Jr. ... Bobby
Bill Wise ... Coach Wise
David Garelik ... Ryan
Justin R. Chan ... Chang
Joshua Brockington ... Stan
Albert Link Albert Link ... Minister
Vivi Pineda ... Elena


Set against the vibrant landscape of South Florida, and featuring an astonishing ensemble of award-winning actors and breakouts alike, Waves traces the epic emotional journey of a suburban African-American family - led by a well-intentional but domineering father - as they navigate love, forgiveness and coming together in the aftermath of a loss. From acclaimed director Trey Edward Shults, Waves is a heartrending story about the universal capacity for compassion and growth even in the darkest of times.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Drama | Romance | Sport

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language throughout, drug and alcohol use, some sexual content and brief violence-all involving teens | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


It was erroneously reported when the film was announced that it was going to be a musical. See more »


Ronald: You have so much love to share with the world and so much life yet to live.
See more »


Referenced in Sardonicast: Waves, The Wizard of Oz (2020) See more »


The Stars in His Head (Dark Lights Remix)
Written by Bell Orchestre
Arranged by Colin Stetson
Performed by Colin Stetson
Published by Third Side Music America (ASCAP) on behalf of Third Side Music (SOCAN)
Courtesy of Constellation
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User Reviews

Tense, extremely ambitious, not always successful, but a must-see
6 November 2019 | by richard-1967See all my reviews

31-year-old director Trey Edward Shults didn't decide to go modest with his third feature. Waves is a big, broad movie, about many relationships, many deep feelings, many social issues. It doesn't always succeed, but boy, it was worth the effort!

Shults focuses on an upscale African-American family in an affluent suburb in Florida. The son's a HS wrestling star, the daughter is quiet and sweet, the dad's successful but tough on his kids because he knows the cost of success particularly for a black family, and the mom, who's in medicine, is an empathic parent. But this seemingly idyllic set-up is shattered in the first minute by the jumping camera and raucous music. The tension is palpable. Something is going to happen throughout this film, but we don't quite know what. (Fear of the unknown was a hallmark of Shults's other notable film, It Comes at Night.)

So this movie is not for the faint-hearted, but it's got a lot to say. About fathers and sons, parents and children, young love, sharing (or not sharing) secrets, hate, anger, and forgiveness, and the effects that great pain - physical and psychic - have on the soul. Needless to say, with this ambitious an agenda, some things work better than others. Some silly plot errors bugged me, but maybe it just doesn't matter much. Another issue that's been raised: a white director working with a black-centric story; didn't bother me, but it's been talked about. Still, the film is never boring, never static, and never mails it in. Even if 75% of the plot and message works, that was good enough for me. It is NOT easy to watch, but it has a lot to say.

Fasten your seatbelts!

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Frequently Asked Questions

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USA | Canada



Release Date:

15 November 2019 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Waves See more »

Filming Locations:

Florida, USA See more »


Box Office


$6,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$134,333, 17 November 2019

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

Production Co:

BRON Studios, JW Films See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Atmos



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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