Before I begin, I did not see the second half of this, as I had an extremely early flight the next morning (booked for work after I had bought my festival ticket), so I am not offering a rating, just comments on what I did see.
The first note is that there is a very good visual panache to it. Definitely in league with Harmony Korine (who appears as an actor here) and perhaps a touch of Gaspar Noe. The score from Reznor/Ross is very atmospheric and plays more of a role in the film than is generally the case (case in point, I noticed the score, which I usually don't).
Second, for the first half of this film, the perspective centers on a High School senior and his descent into increasingly toxic masculinity. Now, the film kind of sets this up as a result of a few bad turns of luck, but I would argue, the toxic male was always there. It is the stressor moments that hold up the mirror. I struggled mightly with the tone of this first half. I haven't seen Joker yet, but certainly the discussion around it was concern about its putting you in the shoes and perhaps trying to get you to empathize with a toxic character. Even if you don't accept that Scorsese's films have glamorized mob and wealthy fraudster lifestyles, they certainly focus on these characters and by the nature of cinema, ask you to empathize. Thing is, I do not want to empathize with toxic men. Not even as part of a cautionary tale against toxic masculinity.
American Dharma (another film I haven't seen) seems to be drawing some criticism because Errol Morris gives Steve Bannon a platform without going hard at him and his ideology. I increasingly feel like the appropriate way to focus on white supremacist ideology isn't to give it an airing so people can judge it...or to even give it a platform in the context of criticism. The appropriate way to handle it is to ignore it completely. To starve it completely of attention. So I would say is the case for toxic masculinity. Don't tell those stories; don't give them representation. Instead represent the alternatives.
As it comes to Waves, the second half switches perspective to that of his younger sister, and the general fall-out of the dramatic incident that splits the film. I may ultimately reconnect with this film to watch the second half. However, reading some takes on the film, I am not sure I will be satisfied with its turn towards forgiveness and the like. But I guess we'll see.