‘The Wave’ is a time-twisting, visually engaging treat

Noah Levine

Get lost in a time-bending trip with director Gille Klabin’s “The Wave.”

“The Wave,” which premiered at Austin’s Fantastic Fest, revolves around lawyer Frank (Justin Long) after he takes a mystery drug during a party he attends behind his wife’s back. Frank is then sent on an unpredictable journey through time and space where he tries to unscramble a mysterious series of events. Throughout this genre-bending epic, Frank and his right hand man Jeff (Donald Faison) face off against deadly drug dealers, demonic businessmen and ethereal goddesses. 

The shining star of “The Wave” is Long’s leading performance as Frank. A morally gray character, Frank has the potential to rub viewers the wrong way, but the innocence and physicality of Long prevents audiences from heavily disliking him. His relatability allows viewers to connect with him as they experience the trip with him. Faison wonderfully plays off Long, with his outgoing comedic attitude contrasting with Long’s timid portrayal. 

The cinematography in “The Wave” truly brings the reality-bending world to life. The visuals live and breathe during intensive hallucinatory sequences and calmly hover in static sequences. The versatile lighting creates equally beautiful and strange imagery against a backdrop of pale-white deserts and neon parties.

“The Wave” features eccentric and sporadic editing that mixes and twists the narrative. The editing corresponds to the main character’s perspective, communicating the protagonist’s confusion to the viewer better than dialogue would. Scenes of high tension rapidly cut from shot to shot, while more melodic scenes slowly glide to their own tune.

The storyline of the film is endlessly entertaining and engaging. The main journey of the protagonist is the sole focus of the film, which lends itself to a plot with minimal interest. The plot is wonderfully surprising and filled to the brim with comedic quips and fantastic visuals. While the story does revolve around a horrendous drug trip, the moments of true hallucinatory madness are carefully used, enabling many scenes to still retain a grounded feeling. This distinction helps prevent “The Wave” from becoming another mindless drug comedy by using a more artistic approach. 

Despite the narrative resulting in some sort of conclusion and realization, it is still hard to fully understand the presence of certain things in the story. The use of drugs as a causation for the reality-bending journey is rather confusing considering the film’s message about fate. Additionally, for those who are unfamiliar with how insurance works, the character motivations may be hard to understand.

Despite its narrative faults, “The Wave” is a quick and engaging blast of time-bending madness. The plot rages on all throughout, offering consistent and visually engaging entertainment throughout its runtime. 

3.5 drugged out lawyers in a boardroom meeting out of 5