Between Waves has an interesting central concept and some arresting cinematography, but a poor script and some strange narrative choices make it a much more tedious experience than it perhaps could have been, considering the uniqueness of its subject matter.
Billed as a “metaphysical love story” on its poster, Between Waves tells the story of professional photographer Jamie (Fiona Graham), whose quantum physicist boyfriend Isaac (Luke Robinson) has gone missing, and is presumed dead. Haunted by his disappearance while attempting to continue with life as normal, Jamie gets more and more wrapped up in figuring out exactly what happened, and is convinced that his disappearance has something to do with Isaac’s research into parallel dimensions. The more obsessed she becomes, the more it becomes unclear as to whether she has hit upon the truth or is experiencing some kind of stress and grief induced delusion.
This sets the film up for the potential to explore some interesting and unusual avenues, tying together a romance with inter-dimensional exploration and perhaps even the potential to explore the process of grief and how difficult it can be feeling like there are answers that can never quite be reached. Unfortunately, the film fails to do any of these things convincingly, often lacking credibility thanks to a script that eschews nuance in favour of an overly simplistic heavy-handedness that reduces the impact of scenes that should be far more captivating than they are.
This isn’t helped by the fact that the film never quite feels focused enough, or has enough conviction, to truly make the most of its themes. There’s a stilted quality to the dialogue that makes every conversation feel like a poor facsimile of a real conversation rather than a truly authentic one, and this results in interactions that are more laughable than powerful, especially when the film is buying into its own unearned seriousness. This, blended with the fact that it never gets under the skin of its core concepts, means that there are quite large sections that feel superfluous to the general story. A large section of the film is spent on the Azores, which look immaculate thanks to the gorgeous cinematography. However, despite the beauty of the island, the narrative suffers from a lot of aimless wandering, and narrative choices that feel like they are trying to force the point rather than allow it to breathe and come to the fore naturally. That lack of nuance is at the core of the film’s failings, and it’s a shame, because perhaps there is a metaphysical love story here that could work, with a script that took the time to ensure it all came together more intelligibly and explored both the metaphysical science fiction story and the love story in a more satisfying fashion.
That isn’t to say that the film has no redeeming features. The performances are generally solid, even if they are hampered by the script giving them little to work with, and it’s clear that director Virginia Abramovich had some genuinely interesting ideas, but the overall execution just doesn’t work. Where it should be impactful, it’s unconvincing, and it is hard to believe in the characters when you never quite believe their reactions or interactions.
Between Waves is released on digital on Monday 20 September.