LFF 2021: Ride The Wave – Review

Release Date – TBC, Cert – N/A, Run-time – 1 hour 24 minutes, Director – Martyn Robertson

Documentary following pre-teen surfer Ben Larg as he attempts to tackle some of the biggest and most violent waves the world has to offer.

There’s certainly a somewhat simplistic nature to director Martyn Robertson’s Ride The Wave. Yet, it allows for a rather charming nature to come through as it follows young, pre-teen surfer Ben Larg in his ambitious aim to tackle some of the world’s biggest and most dangerous waves. Surfing has long been his passion, he’s dedicated much of his life to it – even in the face of severe bullying and adversity, which has caused him to be taken out of school – and has his heart set on becoming a surfing champion, while still simply enjoying the rush that tackling the waves brings. It certainly comes across in the various montages that show his dedication to the sport, preparing for competitions and truly throwing himself in.

We see the pride that those around him, particularly his parents who play a prominent part in the film, have for Ben. Yet, they bring in an honesty about how this passion has impacted them, at least when it comes to what they’ve seen their son go through when it comes to the bullying he faced at school. It’s as such points are focused on, especially in the second half of the film’s relatively short run-time, that a more traditional feel comes in to play. While not necessarily a bad thing it does create a sense of familiarity, even within a documentary.

As we see various montages play out there’s something alike to the feeling of a more direct narrative feature is created within the piece. It particularly comes across in the pacing of certain sections, again largely in the second half of the film. As some events play out the film seems as if, even though only 84 minutes long, it could be slightly cut down to be closer to the hour mark. Yet, there’s no denying that your attention is still held within the events that are playing out – especially as the central focus of Ben begins to attempt to tackle bigger waves in various competitions, his worries and stresses showing amongst his connection to the adrenaline he gains from the activity.

It’s a central idea to the piece as he’s shown riding various metaphorical and emotional waves alongside the physical ones created by the seas and oceans which surround him and his family. One which manages to engage you and keep you in place throughout, even amongst the occasional shifting nature of the film and the ways in which it presents itself to the viewer. It’s the central passion for surfing that keeps you interested, as is the case with many documentaries such as this. Wanting to see someone who clearly cares about something succeed in that area simply because they are passionate about it. Indeed wanting to see Ben ride the wave(s).

While the nature of Ride The Wave may occasionally shift to something more alike to a narrative film, there’s still a connection to the piece as it clearly show’s the focus’ passion for surfing, creating an element with charm within that.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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