Reality gets intermingled with paranoia in Gille Klabin’s frantic little film ‘The Wave (2020).’ Starring Justin Long as a corporate lawyer who takes life and it’s many challenges literally, the film follows him on a self-realizing hallucinogenic journey that is too goofy to be taken seriously. From one absurd punch that twists the fabric of reality, this drug-induced silliness does, however, manage to say a few interesting things about the laws of existence that might help a few woke teenagers get a hold of their life.
It is that day in Frank’s (Justin Long) life which he has been waiting for years. He has cracked a big break in the many records that break families of people who loan their way through life. He is ecstatic to see himself finally getting that big promotion and so is his best friend/colleague Jeff (Donald Faison). He suggests that an adventurous rundown to the bars is in the cards. While Frank respectfully declines – naming Tuesday as the reason, later in the night he ends up with him and his two newly made female friends – Natalie (Katia Winter) & Theresa (Sheila Vand). Within a short span, they hop onto a party where Theresa and Frank mingle with a strange man who gives them a drug promising to ease off Frank’s worried persona.
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The next second Frank is found running amok because his trip hasn’t ended and he has a meeting to attend to the next morning. His wallet is gone, his cellphone isn’t responding and nothing seems to make sense. To top it off, he is making time jumps which he supposes is a side effect of the drug trip that hasn’t washed off just yet. Soon enough, his life – which was a raging volcano just on the verge of one-mistake away from toppling over, blasts in all directions. The film then motions through moments after moments of sudden time-lapses, changed situations that escalate to heightened degrees more than once and some in-between moments of cherished harmony that charmingly terms this entire exercise as a metaphor for slowing down in life.
The Wave is a film that might work for people who are easily charmed up by films about time travel, or a supposedly metaphorical rundown of life and all its cynicism. But for people who can see through all the trippy visuals and stylized hyper-realistic narrative, the film is flawed at every turn. Gille Klabin’s genre exercise is a thriller with no bounds of how to get the actual theme of self-actualization across. This is why the director chooses to put Justin Long in the abled shoes of narrating this tale which should have tried to be a little less lazy in the writing direction since it’s supposed to visually clue you into the world of chaos where a person loses themselves and never actually understands what’s the right pick for them.
Inside all the bad trips and thrills, The Wave (2020) is about taking the right step. Choosing the right thing can be a difficult task. It can wake you up multiple times and you still wouldn’t understand if you have done life right. Gille Klabin makes it easier for his protagonist who hasn’t been feeling breezy in his own skin. There’s a sincerity to his story that somewhere gets lost in the flawed time-travel/drug-induced haze that he puts it into. For a small independent film, he manages to rope in a breathtaking audio-visual representation of drug paranoia and dreamscape, but when it comes to complimenting it with a script that doesn’t just try to be smarter than it actually is, he falters.