Dir/scr: Frank E Flowers. UK-Ger-US-Sp. 2004. 115mins.
Handsomely, even expensively mounted, and serviceably if notbrilliantly, acted, Haven is a filmso lacking in narrative skill, interesting characters, or anything but the mostshowily attractive situations andthemes that it self-destructs barely 15 minutes in and stays out of servicethroughout its long, long length.
Despite the presence of current heartthrob Orlando Bloom and veteranactor Bill Paxton, all signs indicate a swift journey straight to the videoshelf.
It's a sort of a caper (and/or drug-money laundering and/or smoulderingpassions) movie that is set on Grand Cayman Island, and the latter featuremakes it periodically watchable for its mild anthropological interest.
Not surprisingly, however, island culture never becomes more than achance to add a desperate dollop of exoticism to this very tired, brain-deadmaterial. There are drugs, black gangsters (some of whom speak with a WestIndian lilt, others who inexplicably sound like refugees from an Americanghetto), endless partying, drinking and drug-taking, and lots and lots of shotsof very provocatively dressed teenage girls. The gangsters, dripping with goldchains, are cliched, phoney, and never scary for a second.
Plots, many of them, are set in motion, then allowed to run berserkbefore, without warning, stopping dead. Characters appear, are momentarilyexplored as we are asked to identify emotionally with them, then areunceremoniously dropped.
The first section is portentously labelled 'The Americans,'and we briefly follow a story of an American crook (Paxton) and his problemswith his daughter (Bruckner, from TheBlue Car) and the Feds who are closing in on his stash of money.
Then, 20 minutes in, a title card introduces 'The Caymanians'and informs us that it is four months earlier. For the longest time, we haven'tthe slightest clue who all these new and not very interesting people are.
Then, after another 20 minutes, it suddenly becomes four months lateragain. The final section is called 'The Brits,' and though it'sobvious that this is where everything is supposed to flow together (we havebegun seeing scraps of the earlier story in the interstices of the main action)and bring the relief of clarification to confused viewers, it doesn't happen.
The sometimes-baleful influence of PulpFiction and its multiple-perspective narrative thus continues in ourcinematic life.
We are assaulted by lots of zooming and focus changes and unwarrantedcamera movement and jump cutting, all of which is presumably meant to make thefilm feel 'edgy,' but it does anything but. The love story at thecore of the second half is uninteresting and the thriller aspects never thrillnor do they contain even a shred of suspense.
A homosexual contretemps is thrown in near the end, presumably toincrease the quotient of decadence, but remains utterly silly.'Startling' revelations come at the ends of scenes, but are rarelyfollowed up on.
Director Frank E Flowers ultimately turns to brazen melodrama in anattempt to rescue the film (innocent girls become whores, acid is thrown intofaces, fathers sob uncontrollably), but few in the audience will have enoughinterest left to complain.
Int'l sale: Syndicate Films Intl
Exec prods: Kelli Konop, Aleen Keshishian
Prods: Robbie Brener, Bob Yari
Prod des: DamienByrne
Main cast: OrlandoBloom, Bill Paxton, Stephen Dillane, Zoe Saldana, Agnes Bruckner