FantasticFest 2019 Movies: The Wave

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Gille Klabin (Director)
Carl W. Lucas (Writer)
Justin Long (Actor)

Frank (Justin Long) is having a great day at work. He’s figured out how to screw over a family at the insurance company where he’s a lawyer. It’s fine, it’s just his job. Besides, everybody has dependents, right? Besides, he’ll get to present it to the big boss himself,
tomorrow morning. His best friend and co-worker, Jeff (Donald Faison) offers to take him out to celebrate.

What follows is a misadventure somewhere between Go and John Dies at the End… a terrifying, drug-fueled rampage through reality and time, wrapped up in a sweet fairytale about consequences and who we want to be. I keep thinking about Joe Vs. the Volcano, if that entire movie happened during an acid flashback Tom Hanks had at work.

It’s a damn funny movie. Long and Faison are a great buddy team, and I want to see soemthing with them again ASAP. (C’mon, Hollywood, remake a buddy comedy and let these guys do it. You know you want to…) The sets and situations are littered with great bits, from the patron throwing up outside of the El Madrid bar, to the myriad in-jokes that become apparent on second viewing.  The realism of the drug scenes, despite the drug itself being fictional, struck me immediately upon viewing. Here is a film that presents the scary, potentially enlightening, and uncontrollable parts of psychedelics. The “expansive, educational aspects”, as writer Carl Lucas put it in our interview. Gone are the trailing hands and talking animals of “drug movies”. Instead, The Wave gives us that sense of unreality, that odd feeling that this might yield some “underlying truth” that often accompanies tripping, coupled with the tension between the your perception and the “regular world” happening around you. Watching Frank try and navigate a board meeting while time spirals out of his control and all the secret souls of his coworkers sweat out their skin… Been there, buddy.

Drugs, y’all.

There’s a lot of philosophy happening in the movie, as Frank wrestles with the consequences of his work, and the homelife and stagnant relationship he’s drifted into. Presented with the opportunity to touch chaos, he takes it. Frank finds he must, to quote writer Carl Lucas again, “go through the chaos to get to the harmony.” It’s a wonderful film, and the only thing at fest I’ve watched twice already. See it whenever you
can, and enjoy.