Writer/director Trey Shults’ Waves can only be described as an innovative and intense kaleidoscope of emotions, energy, and vibrancy that resonates with audiences long after it’s over. It hits hard…like a massive tsunami of feels. Seriously, it’s This Is Us x 1000.

Waves is the perfect title for this family drama set on the beautiful South Florida coast. The 31-year-old Shults offers a complex story of a family going through something very traumatic all while portraying the multidimensional impacts of their actions over the course of three acts, and Shults truly deserves some awards recognition this season for this beautiful film about the human experience.

This story focuses on a middle-class African American family that is facing the hardships of life together after a tragedy. While every single cast member offers an emotionally charged performance, Taylor Russell and Kelvin Harrison Jr. are forces to be reckoned with. We will be seeing a lot more of these two talented actors in the near future.

Sterling K. Brown could also be a Best Supporting Oscar contender for his role as the supportive but somewhat pushy father. Brown finally gets to flex his emotional verisimilitude (that fans of the hit NBC show This Is Us have fallen in love with) on the big screen, and it’s extremely effective and authentic in this unpredictable story. By the time the third act rolls around and Lucas Hedges enters the story, viewers are already drained, devastated, and discombobulated by what they have seen. It’s hard to imagine another wave coming. Alas, it does.

It’s not just the heart-wrenching story that gives Waves its ripple effect on audiences. It’s also the sound, intense music, face-paced cinematography, innovative aspect ratio and framing, mesmerizing vibrant tones, and colors that truly make Shults’ third film shine. The color, energy, and innovation accelerate this piece of art from entertainment to an entire engulfing experience.

The pioneer framing can be attributed to young cinematographer Drew Daniels, who is also known for his work on It Comes At Night and HBO’s hit show Euphoria. While he isn’t new to the industry, he is still relatively young, which reflects in his work. It seems Daniels isn’t afraid to step outside the box and try new things. Which we truly appreciate, and it doesn’t go unnoticed. This type of revolutionary framing helps give the story life without making viewers dizzy. That, and the penetrating music composed by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross certainly help propel this story to the next level.

Navigating the difficulties of life isn’t easy. Being human is hard. But Waves reminds us that, if we stay together, we can get through even the darkest of times. As far as capturing the pain and struggle that comes along with life and family strife, Shults nails it. And if art is supposed to imitate life, then Shults has far exceeded his job and our expectations for him as a filmmaker. Overall, Waves is a powerful story of forgiveness, love, acceptance, and humanity.