Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: Justin Long, Tommy Flanagan, Katia Winter, Donald Faison, Sheila Vand, Bill Sage, Sarah Minnich, Monique Candelaria, Ronnie Gene Blevins, Blythe Howard, Carl W. Lucas
Written by: Carl W. Lucas
Directed by: Gille Klabin
MPAA Rating: R for strong drug content and language throughout, some disturbing images
Running Time: 87
Date: 01/17/2020
IMDB

The Wave (2020)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Shard Drugs

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Starting as a drug-fueled, night-out-gone-wrong story, this clever little item soon turns into a metaphysical mystery that engages and intrigues with its vivid, offbeat characters and smart dialogue.

In The Wave, attorney Frank (Justin Long) has just worked out a way to deny a huge insurance claim to a family, and providing a big profit for his company. A co-worker, Jeff (Donald Faison) convinces him to go out and celebrate. They meet two women, Theresa (Sheila Vand, the girl from A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night) and Natalie (Katia Winter), at a bar and then go to a party. He encounters a mysterious older man who offers him a special, secret drug, which hits him "like a wave."

He wakes up, his phone dead and his wallet missing, and Theresa missing as well, and late for an important morning meeting. Worse, he begins experiencing scary hallucinations and huge jumps in time, and someone has cleaned out his bank account. After a while, he begins seeing signs and realizes that, perhaps, the universe is trying to tell him something.

Above all, The Wave even touts a suggestion that the universe, in a constant yearning for harmony, tends to find balance for bad things with good; it's a most warming message for very tough times. It quickly and happily sidesteps the perceived goal of getting Frank to his important meeting on time and begins concentrating on bigger mysteries. The dialogue has a way of not only sounding real and funny, but also containing layers, little clues that point to the movie's themes.

Written by Carl W. Lucas and directed by Gille Klabin (the latter making his feature debut), The Wave doesn't forget to have fun. From the mysterious man at the party to Frank's CEO boss (forever holding a clinking glass of whisky on ice), and a philosophical drug dealer (Ronnie Gene Blevins), the characters are swiftly drawn, the flashes of time are doled out economically and cleverly, and the filmmakers demonstrate an assured, crisp use of color and space.

It's perhaps a little too lowbrow to reach the heights of other great, existential comedy-mysteries (like Being John Malkovich), but in its own way it works well.

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