Haven (Yari Film Group, R)

Haven is a very realistic film about the lengths people go to get what they want and to act on how they feel, and the people they hurt in the process.

 

The opening scene of Haven defines the word easily: a young couple deeply in love and carefree, with a backdrop of the sun setting on the Cayman Islands. They feel safe in each other's arms. Another scene reflects on one Miami family's dependence on money for security. And as the movie pushes forward, it hits hard on how easily such things can be lost, abused, and broken.

These two stories are part of a bigger picture, as writer/director and native Caymanian Frank E. Flowers brings a number of young people's lives together at a house party near the beginning of the film. Then he backtracks to show events leading up to the party, and how the lives intertwine more than the viewer initially sees at the party.

The young couple, Shy and Andrea (Orlando Bloom and Zoe Saldana), are keeping their relationship secret. But the day Andrea turns 18, they decide to have sex and sleep in, getting caught by Andrea's influential father and her brother. Rumors fly that Shy raped Andrea, and Andrea's brother, Hammer (Anthony Mackie) throws acid on Shy's face, scarring him badly and triggering a downward spiral for both Shy and Andrea.

The family from Miami arrives on the Islands looking for its investor, and due to their money being on the Islands-thus "tax-free"-they're in trouble with U.S. federal agents. The father, Carl (Bill Paxton), arrives with loads of hundred dollar bills taped to his chest, and quickly realizes his investor had been the one trying to get him caught.

The film seems broken into two parts: the first focusing on the two main stories, the second giving a richer background to these and involving other people. This makes for a slow pace to start, but picks up quickly. Each character's motives and feelings are interesting, and how their story will end is not so much the focus. Haven is a very realistic film about the lengths people go to get what they want and to act on how they feel, and the people they hurt in the process.

As the film is focused on numerous characters, Bloom doesn't dominate the film but is an intense presence in any scene he's involved in. Saldana plays a believable pure young girl who quickly becomes involved with drugs and promiscuous sex while her boyfriend hides away due to his scars. Flowers, with his second feature film, shows interest in varying subject matter, and the ability to tie fragments together as a spider web of ideas.

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