Structurally indebted to Pulp Fiction but lacking Quentin Tarantino’s sense of humor and knack for dramatic rhythm, Frank E. Flowers’s Cayman Islands-set Haven intertwines various narrative threads without ever coming up with an underlying point that might make his chaotic material sizzle. The result is a lackadaisical tropical mess full of plot strands at once overly complicated and confused, the most blatant case in point being the film’s first segment involving a shady businessman named Carl Ridley (Bill Paxton) who is chased by the Feds to the Caymans, where he hunkers down in a condo with his daughter Pippa (Agnes Bruckner) and the stacks of cash he had surreptitiously strapped to his body for the impromptu trip. Even with various scenes elucidating Ridley’s tangled relationship with an offshore broker (Stephen Dillane) and his alluring assistant (Joy Bryant), Flowers never bothers explaining what Paxton’s wheeler-dealer does for a living or why the authorities want to apprehend him, so consumed is the director with trying to capture—somewhat successfully, it must be noted—the sweet, sweaty, volatile atmosphere of his luxuriant paradise locale. It’s a clumsy oversight in keeping with Haven‘s awkwardness, which also extends to its two subsequent storylines involving Pippa’s partying escapades with an island lothario (Victor Rasuk) and the doomed Romeo and Juliet-style affair between native fisherman’s son Shy (Orlando Bloom) and virginal Andrea (Zoe Saldana), an interracial union vehemently opposed by Andrea’s father and brother (Anthony Mackie). Sex, drugs, and crime are all pieces of Flowers’s multi-character puzzle, which ultimately resorts to employing contrived coincidences, an abusive, racist cop, and an acid attack to Bloom’s face in a desperate bid to raise the enticingly shot action’s mild temperature. Despite the filmmaker’s spatial/temporal crosscutting, however, Haven never coheres into a piercing or poignant examination of the class and racial issues intrinsic in its refuge setting, though it does prove adept at positing unpleasantly stereotypical characterizations of its milieu’s inhabitants (whites are bigots, corrupt sleazeballs, or narcoticized sluts; blacks are bigots, con men, or misogynistic thieves) that likely won’t sit well with the Caymans’ tourism officials.
- Frank E. Flowers
- Frank E. Flowers
- Bill Paxton, Orlando Bloom, Stephen Dillane, Zoe Saldana, Razaaq Adoti, Agnes Bruckner, Victor Rasuk, Lee Ingleby, Anthony Mackie, Joy Bryant, Bobby Cannavale
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