Isolated in the dappled beauty of a Filipino island, surrounded by the calming ceaseless motion of the ocean, Ross (Baron Geisler) and Sofia (Ilona Struzik) let their love affair loose all around them. WAVES, first feature from indie filmhouse Waverly Pictures, is a love letter written in the sand. It’s waiting to be washed away.
The film captures instantly that sense of time running out into nothing. The island is suspended reality, on which these two old friends can rekindle a moment they shared in the past that they both know has a very uncertain future. It is fitting that WAVES is constructed like a dream itself, focusing mostly on that postcard-like surreal beauty of an unspoilt island with wide sky and ocean shots, which lul not only us but the couple into a trance. There is little conversation; the surroundings speak for themselves.
However, the message that comes across loud and clear is that beauty is worth risking everything for. The intimacy between Ross and Sofia, which is constructed slowly and unassumingly through montages of their deliberate body language, is believable, yet it suggests more than anything else that it is Sofia’s beauty that captivates Ross and the beauty of the island that captivates them both. They are compelled and drawn into the love affair mindlessly, despite other situations in their lives keeping them apart. Little is revealed about their past relationship, bar a few drunken tales of fun.
WAVES is a first-timer’s success in cinematography and editing. A sporadic style of intruding memories is explored, as certain movements, actions and expressions trigger involuntary sounds or images. This non-linear style keeps the story, which is simple in structure, interesting until the end. Although the mood is bittersweet, as the moments they share are stolen, the beauty of every shot – all the natural colours of the island, the white sharks in the sea which Ross swims with, the nymph-like way Sofia glides – is enough to banish any feeling of sadness.
This is intelligent indie filmmaking by Don Frasco, portraying an instinct for storytelling that will be exciting to see develop. WAVES is a slice of cross-cultural bliss that invents its own rules about how we experience beauty on the screen.