Director Frank E. Flowers’ full-length debut, “Haven,” is a study in sin. Set mostly in the Cayman Islands, the film’s
characters live in a world where the stakes are high and the people are higher. It could be written off as an amateur experiment with an erratic plotline and drama as conflicted as some of the characters, yet it’s difficult to let go of that easily.
Through the smoke of lust and greed shine two lights — the characters of Shy (Orlando Bloom) and Pippa (Agnes Brucker).
Young and impossibly innocent despite corruption all around them, they are two characters who never do quite what you
want them to. They hang with all the wrong people, make all the wrong choices, and yet are so genuine, so sincere and so real that you can’t help but want to stay by their side, even if it means suffering through the rest of the film.
It’s poised to offer maximum misfortune from the beginning. Two businessmen (Bill Paxton and Stephen Dillane) arrive fresh from fleeing the feds. Pippa, the
daughter of one, gets involved with the resident reprobate, a feisty island local named Fritz, and Shy (Bloom) and his love interest Andrea (Zoe Saldana) get caught spending the night together by one very forceful father and an equally angry brother. Money plus drugs plus sex equals drama to rival the most elaborate episodes of “The O.C.”
The plot itself mimics Shakespearean tragedy at times, but instead of allowing the characters to carry the film, Flowers can’t quite escape the sophomoric mistake of trying to include everything
he ever wanted to say about love, sex, drugs, family and his life into the brief running time he has to chew everything he’s bitten.
The result is an intriguing glimpse into life on an island that brims with beauty and passion, but unfortunately, in this film at least, just as easily lends itself to banality. With a plot of teenage
romance and adults who should know
better, leaving too much time to ”develop” the story really becomes leaving too much time to dwell on the story’s most obvious
shortcomings – predictability, uninventiveness, and unfulfilled
It is the director’s hungry aspirations, sadly, that keep “Haven” stuck as another contrived drama of debauchery, as opposed to the artful exploration of love, loyalty, family and greed it could
Parents should know that this film has very strong language and many graphic scenes of sex and drug use. The plot involves
beatings and murders, and issues such as rape and revenge are extensively explored. Although not completely amoral, some characters seem driven solely by motives such as greed and hatred, and many
adolescents as well as adults in this film are portrayed as very misguided at best.
Families who see this movie will have much to talk about. A good starting point is to explore the motivations of different
characters. Pippa’s father is a corrupt businessman — what might have driven him to repeatedly make such unprincipled choices? Pure greed, a desire to provide for his daughter, pressure from others to
succeed, frustration at an inability to stop the momentum of lies? This film could be seen as a film about choices; families might discuss which choices characters have at certain points in the film, and what factors each character might consider when making his or her choices. Are there things each character could have considered at
critical points that might have lead to better, more ethical and careful choices? How can we take strong emotions into account while making decisions, without letting them dictate our actions?
Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Baz Luhrmann’s 1996 Romeo + Juliet, as “Haven” shares a similar editing style (choppy and manic at times, with a very saturated color
palette) and the two have many plot themes in common. Families might also consider Steven Soderbergh’s Oscar-winning film Traffic, an exploration of America’s drug culture through four interweaving stories.