Thursday, January 18, 2007



It all boiled down to one Friday the 13th night.

Haven takes place in the Cayman Islands, paradise on Earth, with beautiful beaches, friendly people, and of course, being the ideal place to stash cash, ill gotten or otherwise, free from taxation. In its seedier side, to paraphrase from another movie, weed is the currency, openly passed around in nacho chip bags. This movie ditches the idyllic moments, to peer beneath the veneer, of hell on Earth instead.

I like movies which have many characters, each with their own objectives, but being led by unseen forces as they relate to one another, and events bring them to within striking distance. They might belong to distinct story arcs, but given the geographical proximity, their lives, their decisions and the consequences all become intertwined.

There are three clear arcs in the movie, but the characters involved flit seamlessly from one arc to the next. You have the corrupt businessmen looking to escape the law at Miami, an affair, a daughter who hooks up with drugs and the wrong company, a sly thief of sorts, two star crossed lovers, a hot headed brother, good friends, and gangsters. On its own, they could be short stories. But when narrative style takes on the fragmented, non linear approach to spice and disguise an ordinary story, that's what you get in Frank E. Flowers' Haven.

Perhaps what will put bums in seats is the presence of Orlando Bloom, though the M18 rating would have restricted his girly groupie fans here from seeing their cinematic idol on screen in a role which is similar to what Tom Cruise did in Vanilla Sky, sort of. He plays the role of the Romeo in the star-crossed lovers arc, as Shy, son of a fisherman, still figuring out the meaning to his life, and having a lack of ambition which worries his girlfriend Andrea (Zoe Saldana). Parental disapproval gets into play, and the rest is a spiral downwards for both lovers and their relationship. Some say Bloom's role is intense, but there isn't enough room for his character to justify that.

And sadly, that was just about the better story amongst the three. In reality, all three could have been extremely short, as the scenes, though intercut with each other and had some overlapping moments, don't really contribute much to the characters or stories. You could have cut off half the fat, and still the story would hold water. One saving grace would be the score and soundtrack though, accentuating the illusion of paradise.

But this is not to say Haven's a really bad movie. It just had enough story elements to cruise along in auto-pilot, and in the process offer nothing groundbreaking stylistically, or earth shattering in having any twists and turns to the plot. Breaking up and juxtaposing a linear plot does not disguise the fact that it inherently needs a lot more oomph.

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