Shame on the people marketing "Haven," referencing a great film like "Crash" on the poster for their disappointing, dull, and uninspired film. After seeing the result, it's obvious to see why "Haven" was put on the shelf for two years after being made. I suppose the easiest comparision could be to "Pulp Fiction," only in the way that it tells the non-linear story of three separate events, and then connecting them all together in the end. But it's never interesting, and its never really clever, and at times it was just dreadfully boring. I wasn't impressed, in any way, at anything that was done, and I just wanted it to end.
"Haven" begins with the story of Carl and Pippa Ridley(played by Bill Paxton and Agnes Bruckner), a father and daughter who are all each other has. It's almost Pippa's birthday, and her friends are still speculating why she's still a virgin. Her father has some sort of surprise for the big day, but the plans are interrupted when it is revealed that Carl is really a shady businessman who is now wanted by the Feds. This forces him and Pippa to not even have time to pack a suitcase, and to flee to a small room in the Caymans Islands. Now in the Islands, Pippa is upset about everything that she had to leave behind, and begins to explore Caymans night life. It's a more wild time on the islands, where there is always a party, and everybody seems to be experimenting on some kind of drug or the other. Pippa meets Fritz, a local who is constantly in trouble with the law. Everything than suddenly goes into a switch, and we flash to six months earlier, and are introduced to the bulk of the film. The story of Shy and Andrea, (played by Orlando Bloom and Zoe Saldana). Shy is in his early twenties, and is romancing seventeen year old, almost eighteen year old, Andrea. Their love is forbidden, as her brother and father believe that he is a disgrace, and will only shatter any name that the family has made for themselves. She gives Shy her virginity, and in turn, her brother scars his face for life. Going into the present day, Shy begins to see what Andrea has become. She is forced to go into counseling as a result of what she's done, and instead of being able to love Shy, she becomes more like the island whore-going from man to man, and doing drug to drug. Shy decides that he must stand up for the woman he still loves, and figure out exactly who is responsible for her ending up this way.
The first half focuses on Ridley, the middle section on the tragic love story between Shy and Andrea, and the third half pushes everything together. There is a third story involving the shady Mr. Allen, another corrupt businessman, but that mostly fits into Paxton's storyline. The two seem unrelated, and once about halfway into Bloom's storyline, you begin to wonder if you're even still watching the same movie. But, little tiny scenes and shots play an important role to establishing the main connection, and when its over, it doesn't seem as clever as it should have been. It was interesting to see Orlando Bloom in such a role like this. He still delivered all of his lines in a wooden tone of voice, but it was welcoming to see him in something other than a big Hollywood film. My theory is still that he only managed to hit big by starring in films that were penned to make over 300 million dollars. "Lord of the Rings" and "Pirates of the Caribbean" are perfect examples of this. Maybe he could try out his acting range with a small film like this once in a while.
Another problem, aside from the overall writing and plot twists, were the visuals. Director Frank E. Flowers just doesn't use the Cayman Islands to the best of their ability. I understand the irony here: The Cayman Islands have also been an escape for movie characters, and people in real life. When people come into money, or have committed a horrible crime, where is the one place that they always seem to go. The Caymans! It is a safe "haven" for them, and this film shows what madness goes on there, and the consequences of residing there in escape. Considering its supposed to be paradise, this film features this land as everything but. And Flowers depicts this, and instead of showing blue waters, he puts a dark gray tint on every shot, and moves the camera around as if he has the shakes. It was impossible to really enjoy anything. I get that it was the point to not show the Cayman's in all their natural glory, but the visuals could have aided to some kind of payoff in the film.
I love films like "Haven." Big ensemble films, with all unrelated storylines coming together in the end. It's an old gimmick, but when it works well, it turns out amazing. This type of storyline can't rely on acting to pass it, but it must have a clever script. Without a good script, and earned connections, an ensemble piece cannot work. "Haven" doesn't really work well, the less than stellar script just leads to undeveloped characters. The most developed section is probably the relationship between Andrea and Shy, but Bloom managed to turn him into such a wooden and one dimensional person that it was impossible to really understand how he felt about her, or root for their relationship. Saldana's Andrea is the best acting job here, and her drift from innocent nice girl, to drugged up village bicycle is so sudden, but she does it in such a natural way. I just wanted her to be saved, as opposed to any kind of relationship subplot. I really hope she gets around in the near future, because her performance was one of the sole winners in "Haven." This could have sat on the shelves for a little while longer, or just came straight to video. This is Flowers' first feature length film, and maybe he can work a little harder on his second effort. Or he could rework "Haven" in the future, and fix it up a little bit. It's not a bad concept, at all.