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Take Every Wave: The Life of Laird Hamilton
Even for those unaware of the sport of surfing, Laird Hamilton has achieved a modest level of crossover success. Sure, he's appeared in surfing films like Riding Giants, Step Into Liquid and the sequel to Bruce Brown's Endless Summer film. But he's also appeared in fictional work too, notably in films like the Point Break remake and even had a brief appearance in Alexander Payne's The Descendants. And now as he continues the second half of his life a documentary about Hamilton titled Take Every Wave appears on the horizon.
Directed by Rory Kennedy (Last Days in Vietnam), Take Every Wave interviews Hamilton's friends and family as the film recounts his childhood beginnings in California before he and his mother moved to Hawaii. The introduction of surfer Bruce Hamilton into Laird and his mom's life is touched on as is Laird's struggles dealing with bullies in school who picked on him for little more than being a "haole" (a white kid with blonde hair). The origin of Laird's passion for surfing is shown and his desire to seek out and ride big waves is covered, as are his relationships today with peers and his family, specifically his wife, Gabrielle Reece.
Having seen the titles mentioned above, I can say to some degree than Take Every Wave generally covers ground familiar to those known with the origin story of Hamilton, and a surprise for me at least was a certain business friction between Hamilton and his friends Darrick Doerner and Dave Kalama, among others. There's a certain candor that is different than the other films Hamilton appears in which is naturally in part because the other films are exploring the ideas of surfing, and surfing big waves.
That said, there's a certain tangible feeling of Hamilton keeping matters at arm's length in certain subjects. The relationship with Reece both when they first started seeing each other (while Hamilton was married) and some tension that Hamilton brought upon himself and on Reece years into their marriage where each was questioning the future of their lives with each other is mentioned, but it seems like they want to have their cake and eat it too; either be frank or don't, but going into discussion on a sensitive topic halfway comes across as disjointed and Take Every Wave shows us that.
It's not a fatal flaw of the film by any means because the passion of Hamilton's life is, in his words, trying to chase dinosaurs. The film ends with the 2016 Eddie Aikau invitational, a tournament that brings in the elite wave riders and only starts when conditions bring in waves that are high enough to ride (usually 30 feet or more). The film ends with an unbroken two-minute shot of Hamilton riding such a monster. For a guy in his 50s to still be doing this when friends of his no longer do it, or do it as much as he did, he understands the feeling of missing out on them, and when he does it hurts him. This is conveyed nicely in Take Every Wave and dwarfs the deficiencies of the film, and is another solid installment to the surfing film library.The Disc:
Take Every Wave is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, with the results generally being pleasant. The film juggles home movies, old television broadcasts, current newsreel and practically shot footage with little concern, with most of the flaws inherent in the source material. The current film footage looks good and the surfing film, which not reinventing the wheel, doesn't have to shotwise, the blues and greens of the water is vivid and natural with some crushing but the current film is devoid of edge enhancement or noticeable haloing. Solid viewing overall.The Sound:
Dolby Digital 5.1 surround rules the day, with the only moments of dynamism being the music underneath surfing and/or occasional interview sequences and the surfing sequences. The subwoofer flirts with some engagement from time to time and the channel panning is present albeit a little subtle. Dialogue in the interview segments is consistent and requires little user compensation, and given the nature of the source material the disc is good soundwise.Extras:
Nada. Bummer.Final Thoughts:
Take Every Wave adds some depth to Laird Hamilton's life and passions that you may have already known, but you get a reinvigorated appreciation for when it comes to him doing some of the things he does in the film. It doesn't paper over some of the bumps and bruises in his life but he doesn't spend enough introspection on them either, but it doesn't distract from an enjoyable film about an interesting man. It could have used a little more (well, some) help in the bonus material department, but otherwise was a fun little film.