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The Perfect Wave
Genre Adventure

Only a surfer knows the feeling. It's not surprising that films about surfing, like Chasing Mavericks, Soul Surfer and now The Perfect Wave, often deal with people experiencing life-changing and near-death experiences. The subculture has an almost religious following around the world as men and women return to the ocean for another transcendent moment on the crest of a wave.

This is where The Perfect Wave drops in, based on the true story of Ian McCormack, a wide-eyed young adventurer who left New Zealand to hit the world's hottest surf spots. Undoubtedly inspired by The Endless Summer, echoed by a movie poster that appears in the film, he and his best friend decided to travel the world in search of the perfect wave and discovered his calling in the process.

Clint Eastwood's son, Scott Eastwood, steps in to play Ian McCormack. The up-and-coming actor has star quality and carries the role with natural charm. He's quietly likable, has good looks and knows how to surf well enough to perform some of his own surf sequences.

Eastwood is supported by former Charlie's Angel, Cheryl Ladd, who plays his spiritually-connected and doting mother. Her sincere performance alongside seasoned South African actor, Patrick Lyster, show Ian's concerned, grounded and loving parents. While the exquisite Rachel Hendrix (October Baby) plays Ian's love interest, whose restless yet spirited walk through the world match Ian's quest, and draw the two together.

The Perfect Wave features some breathtakingly beautiful cinematography of sand, sea and surf in each exotic destination. As expected, there's plenty of underwater and surf photography as Ian gets a taste of each new wave paradise. The level of surfing is strong thanks to the inclusion of real-life pros Roxy Louw and Matt Bromley. At times The Perfect Wave feels like a surf music video turned travelogue, but there's enough drama to propel the story and lace everything together.

Unfortunately, a jarring genre shift from coming-of-age adventure drama to thriller unsettles The Perfect Wave in the third act. The sudden burst of uptempo and suspenseful music appears after a largely laid-back rock music soundtrack. This shift is discordant, coupled by some unintentional comedy and opening a full-blown metaphysical paradigm in the process.

You can see debutant director Bruce Macdonald and his film crew have put a lot of passion and effort into this production, which is why it's unfortunate that it unhitches at such a crucial point. While it's a late game changer, the drama's integrity is further undermined by a handful of weak secondary supporting performances, shattering the suspended reality to distraction.

Ian McCormack's true story and powerful message suffers as a result, but not enough to derail the surf trip's mystique and beautifully crafted, exotic journey through some of the Southern Hemisphere's most beautiful landscapes New Zealand, Indonesia, South Africa and Mauritius.

The bottom line: Spirited

7.00/10 ( 6 Votes )
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