How Waves unpicks the pressures of ‘black excellence’

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Newcomers Kevin Harrison Jr and Taylor Russell on writer-director Trey Edward Shults’s drama about the aftermath of a family tragedy

When Kelvin Harrison Jr, 25, was working on his lead role in Waves, his manager asked him if he wanted to pull out. “There was a fear,” he says, about whether he and the film’s writer-director Trey Edward Shults could pull off its ferocious, narrative-shifting central event.

That tour-de-force moment, which we can’t get into without breaking the law of spoilers, would alter the direction of the film entirely, abruptly switching its lead from Harrison to fellow newcomer Taylor Russell, and transforming a joyful tale of young romance into a bruising one of violence and its consequences. If Waves is a film of two halves, then this jaw-dropping scene, lasting just a few minutes, is its crucial pivot. “Even A24 was scared!” says Harrison. (That’s A24 – the risk-taking production company behind Moonlight and Shults’s second film, It Comes at Night.) “But I was like: ‘No! I believe in Trey.’”

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view The Guardian: World News
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