by Rob Gonsalves
Anyone in the market for a romantic movie might want to forego "Fifty Shades of Grey" and look for the Philippines-set (but mostly English-speaking) independent film "Waves."Some have likened the movie to Terrence Malickâ€™s To the Wonder, a comparison that might hurt it among Malick acolytes and detractors alike; letâ€™s say that Waves has its contemplative side, a healthy appreciation for luscious travelogue shots (most of the story unfolds on an island), and a leisurely pace, but none of Malickâ€™s confounding narration or musings on Nature vs. Grace. Itâ€™s simply the story of two friends who become more than that.
"Love, pure and simple."
Elegantly composed by director/cinematographer Don Gerardo Frasco, Waves sets up a meeting between a man, Ross (Baron Geisler), and a woman, Sofia (Ilona Struzik), who used to know each other back in New York. Sofia is a model now; Ross drinks alone a lot. Sofia needs to get back to New York, and her fiancĂ©, for a modeling gig. Ross suggests she stick around a couple of days. After some thought, Sofia agrees, and before long they are sailing, swimming, and sleeping together on the aforementioned gorgeous island.
As such, the narrative is uncluttered. It focuses on the shifts of emotion between the two new lovers, flipping an old clichĂ© by making the man overly sensitive and the woman noncommittal â€” Ross wants more than a two-day fling, Sofia doesnâ€™t know what she wants. Geisler, well-known in villainous roles in Filipino movies, and Struzik, an actual model, enact their conflict quietly, without overplaying. They seem like adults, which are in short supply in current mainstream cinema. Again, the drama and occasional comedy of two people dealing with their mutual attraction and its attendant complications are better handled here than in the contemporaneous callow spank-a-thon that is Hollywoodâ€™s idea of a Valentineâ€™s Day event.
Occasionally the director indulges a bit much in jump cuts, and some of the shots are static enough that I got distracted trying to work out who was pictured on Rossâ€™s t-shirt. By and large, though, Frasco has a satisfying respect for subtlety. He likes sunsets and underwater footage, but he also knows that the cameraâ€™s ultimate subject is what Faulkner called the human heart in conflict with itself. The picture-postcard images complement the romance rather than competing with it or symbolizing it.
Another sign of an adult sensibility in Waves is that it avoids a happy ending, which isnâ€™t the same as saying it has a sad ending. It just has an ending, which seems to point towards events past the end credits. Will Ross and Sofia wind up together forever? Who knows? They donâ€™t. The ending finds the lovers apart, but the movie suggests theyâ€™ll reunite, whereas most Hollywood romances end with the lovers together while we doubt theyâ€™ll stay that way for long.Do we care about Ross and Sofiaâ€™s future? We like them, and we like them together, and thatâ€™s just about the best that a movie which isnâ€™t trying to be manipulative can do.
link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=28563&reviewer=416
originally posted: 02/11/15 08:43:59