haven (noun): a safe or peaceful place.
In this thriller from newcomer Frank E. Flowers the Haven in question is the Cayman Islands, the place where the young writer/director grew up. It's a refuge for the shady Mr Allen (Stephen Dillane) and his son, and soon becomes the same for his business partner (Bill Paxton) and his daughter as they're forced to flee Miami with the feds on their tail. While Carl stashes his dollars back at their hotel daughter Pippa is out on the town sampling the local nightlife, a decision which later sets the scene for a daring robbery.
Just as you're settling into this plotline the film jumps back a few months and shifts its focus to some of the other islanders, and in particular the characters of Shy (Orlando Bloom) who works on the fishing boats and Andrea (Zoe Saldana), his boss's sultry daughter. When their secret night of passion is discovered by her headstrong brother (Anthony Mackie) a chain reaction of violence and revenge ensues.
Prominently billed as coming "from the makers of Crash" it's easy to see the similarities between the two films, with the jigsaw narrative switching between seemingly unconnected incidents until all the pieces fit into place, and replaying early scenes which now have meaning for other characters. It's an effective way of storytelling, especially for a thriller of this nature, but I feel could have been executed to better effect with Haven. The main problem comes in the editing and pacing which spends far too long with each introduction, rather than cutting between each thread more frequently. By the time Shy and Andrea finally get around to getting down and dirty you've long forgotten about Carl and his dodgy business dealings.
Structural flaws aside, it's a confident display from director Flowers who makes good use of the tropical location and creates a moody picture of trouble in paradise. It's always good to see Bill Paxton on screen, even if he doesn't have too much to do here, but the acting honours must go to Orlando Bloom (an Executive Producer on the film) who gives a quiet, sensitive performance as the pivotal character of Shy. Zoe Saldana also impresses in her first major role, and there's good support from such familiar faces as Stephen Dillane, Jake Weber (Dawn Of The Dead) and Lee Ingleby (BBC's Life On Mars). More cerebral than high octane, and with its appealing tale of star-crossed lovers, Haven is a rewarding drama that you'll enjoy escaping with for an hour or two.
Haven is currently available on R1 DVD from the usual retailers. There are no plans for a UK release at present.
The DVD includes the following special features:
- Making Of Featurette
- Theatrical Trailer