The Fault In Our Waves
Italian film Caught by a Wave is a by-the-book romantic drama with lots of sun, sea and sorrow peppered into its 100 minute run-time. Taking cues from movies like The Fault in Our Stars, this Netflix Original depicts the turbulent ups and downs of a teen romance backdropped by the gorgeous locale of Sicily – and a damning secret that threatens to upend this Summer romance.
This movie wastes absolutely no time getting right to the heart of the drama. We start things off at a sailing summer camp in Sicily, where Sara immediately finds herself taken by the dreamy Lorenzo. He takes her out for a dance and drinks, eventually leading to a goodnight kiss. As they part ways for the evening, Sara and Lorenzo prepare for their whirlwind romance.
Only, Sara holds a big secret. It turns out she has muscular dystrophy, something she can’t bring herself to tell Lorenzo for fear of changing what they have together.
It’s a decent set-up in truth, albeit one that’s been done numerous times before with this “girl has a medical condition” trope. Whether it be Everything, Everything or the aforementioned Fault in Our Stars, these movies live and die by the chemistry between actors. Unfortunately, Caught by a Wave is caught off-guard by its own frantic pacing.
This Italian picture is in such a hurry in fact, that the plot synopsis I wrote out above plays out within the first 10 minutes of the movie. We’re given absolutely no time to build up to this, with both actors immediately just falling in love because the script dictates it so. I get that teen romance is sometimes typified by love at first sight but here it just feels rushed and forced.
Given the heavy subject material, the movie is disappointingly heavy-handed early on because of this, constantly playing catch up to develop its characters in a meaningful way. To make matters worse, it also begins cycling through the obligatory checkboxes of this genre.
It’s not until the midway point where the characters are actually allowed a chance to blossom, past the misunderstanding fall-out and the family pep-talks. It’s here Sara and Lorenzo have some good moments together, typified by one beautifully shot montage helping to solidify their romance.
While the visuals are vibrant and colourful, the script is an unfortunate shade of grey – at least for the first half – as it fails to really stand out next to so many others in this genre. With an extra 15 minutes or so early on, Caught By A Wave could be far more emotionally effective. Instead it feels lukewarm at best.
Caught by a Wave is certainly effective with its emotional peaks late on, with Sara given a lot more time to reflect her family. There’s some particularly touching conversations here, especially one with Sara and her Father, as the two reminisce about riding bikes and eating ice-cream. It’s a simple dialogue but one that very quickly – and realistically – turns into something more emotional.
Despite some nice ideas and a couple of stand-out performances, Caught by a Wave finds itself drifting at sea. It’s not a particularly bad film but it’s not a very original one either. Instead, this movie nestles itself comfortably in the realm of “not bad”. If you’re a fan of these sort of films you’ll immediately be taken by this but for everyone else, this is unlikely to make a splash.