Film Review **..: Island Paradise ...Haven... Takes No Human Sacrifice
Writer/Director...s First Offering Transcends Hollywood Unoriginality
By Alice Macdonald
Written and directed by Frank E. Flowers
Starring Orlando Bloom, Bill Paxton,
Anthony Mackie, Zoe Saldana
“Haven” is the first full-length film from writer/director Frank E. Flowers, and I guess Flowers has some impressive connections, because he manages to score a cast that includes Bill Paxton, Orlando Bloom, and Zoe Sandala, to name just a few. “Haven” is set in Flowers’ birthplace of Grand Cayman Island in the Caribbean, which allows Flowers to really add some island flair and give a feel for the place — the ocean, the food, the music, and the language are all present in “Haven”. These elements add realism to the film that juxtaposes nicely with the stylistic elements used in abundance.
From the very first frame, “Haven” has a trendy feel. It’s got the energy of a music video or television commercial, and a rawness that will make college students across America feel artsy as they watch it. At the onset, I was struck by the use of extreme close-ups, which pull the viewer in and make the fast-paced opening unsettling and confusing — but in a good way. Flowers also uses creative editing, random fast-forwards, and strange lighting, which along with the use of music gave the first half of the film great pace. Somewhere near the end of the film, however, I started to question whether these elements might distract the viewer a little too much and cause an already confusing plot structure to cross the line into incomprehensibility.
As for the acting, I was a little concerned about the prospect of seeing any film starring a certain Orlando Bloom. After some recent run-ins with the young Adonis, my expectations were low. (Anyone who has seen “Troy” knows what I am talking about.) Here Bloom plays Shy, a young outcast who has had his life ruined by the family of his forbidden love. It’s a part that doesn’t really require much as far as acting depth; consequently, Bloom doesn’t screw up too badly!
Paxton shares in the mediocrity with his role as a crooked Florida businessman who flees America with his teenage daughter. Paxton does the “Oh shit, the Feds are coming” bit pretty well, but comes up way short as a supposedly worried and loving father. Thankfully, Zoe Saldana comes through with a strong performance as Andrea, a young and wealthy islander and Juliet to Bloom’s Romeo. I commend Miss Saldana for surviving some unfortunate career choices such as “Crossroads”, “Drumline”, and “Guess Who”. Saldana’s performance in “Haven” is admirable — especially in the second half of the film as she spirals into self-destructive behavior.
In the end, Haven is a love story — whether it be forbidden love between Andrea and Shy, love for money, love between father and daughter, or love for Nacho Cheese Doritos (see the movie and you will understand). Personally, I didn’t fall in love with “Haven,” but I did find the film refreshing in a way. Lately, it seems like every movie coming out of Hollywood is followed by an uncannily similar flick two weeks later. Need an example? I offer “The Black Dahlia” and “Hollywoodland,” “Capote” and “Infamous,” “The Illusionist” and “The Prestige.” I definitely celebrate “Haven” for being independent.