Most documentaries about legendary people are unsurprisingly structured since the subject’s history and reputation steer the film through its motions. Take Every Wave: The Life of Laird Hamilton is no different, but I do admire how the film paces the impressive life of the surfer/entrepreneur/game changer.
Director Rory Kennedy and co-writer Mark Bailey (who last collaborated on the Oscar-nominated doc Last Days in Vietnam) along with co-writer Jack Youngelson (Mission Blue) are a strong team of filmmakers who seem to have a grasp on “who” Laird Hamilton is. With their perceptions (along with honest interviews given by the athlete himself), they’ve crafted a documentary that uses Hamilton’s personality to expand on key events. For instance, to some colleagues and competitors, Hamilton was seen as a cocky go-getter, but the documentary communicates to viewers an explanation that fleshes out this judgemental label (Hamilton’s confidence and thick skin was developed at an early age, which reflected on his personal aspirations and career goals). Audiences can understand both sides of the coin, but we always feel connected to Laird, who is currently facing the bodily struggles of aging.
It’s also important to note that the filmmakers haven’t forgotten about the thrilling sport that surrounds this film, meaning viewers receive lots of cool – and sometimes very scary – footage of the extreme boundaries that were pushed in order to achieve greatness.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie