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Haven (2004)

PostPosted: Sun Jan 14, 2007 4:10 pm
by justindeimen

Money settles in snugly at the heart of this intrepid love story between interracial islanders, so it does seem fitting that its set in the international banking hub called the Cayman Islands that holds over 500 banks. Indeed the entire island runs on the finances of others (legally or otherwise), creating a gulf in economic situations for its inhabitants, white and black. With these distinctions, corruption reigns with all the greed that goes along with it. Cayman Islander, Frank E. Flowers writes and directs Haven, guided by his memories and attempts a keen insight into the mindset of the islands class structure and the corrupting sleaze from men in suits who unduly see no commonality with the native thugs. It certainly does make the Cayman Islands an intriguing locale.

Co-producer Orlando Blooms commercial potential outweighs any creative casting benefits as he filmed this role while taking a short break from being Will Turner. Bloom emotes little, becomes a hysterical victim of his overblown circumstances and becomes a foil for the rest of the characters instead of imposing his chops onto a paltry script that doesnt hide much at all within the slick edits and fancy crisscrossing between its shallow ensemble. He plays Shy, not in the least as a character trait but is explained in a flashback that lasts as long as it takes to read this sentence. Shy is in the lower end of the economic spectrum on the isle, a fisherman by trade whos in love with Andrea (another Pirates of the Caribbean alum in Zoe Saldana), the youngest and virginal member of one of the islands most prominent black families. Zipping on swiftly to the other end of the island, American Carl Ridley (Bill Paxton) is a man on the run from the FBI with his teenage daughter, Pippa (Agnes Bruckner) in tow. And so the disparate classes of the films characters are carelessly weaved into an unconvincing melodrama of betrayal and revenge that wrecks the already weak individuality of these stories.

Mixing pragmatism with romanticism, the two main narrative veins cross each other through flimsy contrivances, awkwardly switching between time and space by throwing in flashbacks that serve no purpose. In the end, it loses whatever little focus and goodwill it had when it established a beautiful coastal view and the shimmering blue ocean at the start. Theres just a lack of storytelling rhythm in its motion, which contrasts the mood-altering soundtrack of Caribbean tunes and Cayman folk music.

The director does try his hardest to insert as much of the local patois of the islands youth and the relation to crime, showing the association between the islands decadence and the prevalent drug use amongst the youth. Flowers crafts a latent sense of racism throughout the film that spans the natives and businessmen that probably owes more to economic circumstances than race. Unfortunately, Flowers also shows an unsteady hand in handling these social ills, as the simmering tensions dont come to a full boil, and instead fizzles out into nothing worth the effort at all.

Its not hard to notice the undercurrent of unwarranted anger and aesthetic pride that Flowers has for the island. He works in a none-too-subtle jab at the western encroachment and the influx of borderline legal businesses that threaten to destroy the harmonic exoticism of his island paradise. How else can we interpret the lack of exposition regarding the crime of Paxtons character but merely as a way of showing that all white businessmen on the island are up to no good?