In this haunting, grotesquely comedic thriller from Filipino art cinema hero Lav Diaz, violence, political unrest, and the dire state of a nation are the grand themes behind a tale of rival cops with a mutual death wish.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2023
Turning heads with his crime and punishment epic Norte, the End of History (NZIFF 2013), Lav Diaz is a master of long-form cinema whose portraits of Philippine society are as potent as they are prolific. When the Waves Are Gone is made with consummate anger and despair, but also an allegorical surrealism that serves up bizarre humour and searing moral inquiry in equal measure.
Centred on Hermes, a maverick detective disgraced for his uncompromising anti-drug methods, the film charts his exile from crime-riddled Manila to the countryside against the revenge-obsessed Primo, a veteran police officer jailed for misconduct by Hermes a decade earlier. Primo’s release from prison unfolds in strangely horrifying fashion, a botched baptism just one of his errors of judgment along the way to tracking down Hermes. Leading us on this strangely hypnotic journey into darkness, Diaz juxtaposes the absurd derangement of these characters with lengthy and poetic philosophising on a culture of fear and corruption, where the ominous horizons depicted in Lauren Greenfield’s outstanding documentary on Philippines politics, The Kingmaker (NZIFF 2020), are brought grimly into focus. — Tim Wong
“The narrative sweep of this film slowly whisks us away and consumes us, like a storm bearing down on an eerily deserted beach.” — David Katz, Cineuropa