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Overall Rating

Awesome: 11.11%
Worth A Look: 8.33%
Average: 5.56%
Pretty Bad41.67%
Total Crap: 33.33%

4 reviews, 12 user ratings

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by Erik Childress

"Fiction Without Pulp, Juice, Color or Taste"
1 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2004 TORONTO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: Putting a puzzle together can be enormous entertainment. The thrill in finding the right pieces and fitting them in as through some metaphysical force guiding you to put two-and-two together can be cathartic and quite a time-killer. So imagine you go to the store, buy a great big fresh one with 1000 pieces. You take it home, open it up and discover there’s only 500. You have to mail order the other half and in the interim, not a one of the 500 you have will fit into another. There’s nothing you can do but wait. And by the time the other half comes four months later, you say “SCREW THIS PUZZLE!” and you can go buy another.

Nobody really stars in Haven. They all just kind of appear from time-to-time forming de-tachments rather than a-ttachments to their stories. Promisingly enough, one of the multi-threads begins with Bill Paxton as a shady businessman who gets word that the feds are coming to his happy home one morning. With a stash full of cash he picks up his unfortunately named daughter, Pippa (Agnes Bruckner) from school and heads off to the Cayman Islands. So far, so-so interesting.

Down in the islands, the story shifts to that a poor local boy played by Orlando Bloom named Shy. (Do these parents hate their children?) Shy certainly doesn’t live up to his name when it comes to bedding down the daughter (Zoe Saldana) of a resident badass. They’re in love, but no one stops to ask them so her big brother, callously assuming she’s being taken advantage of does what any protective family member would do – throw acid on the boy’s face. This tactic really isn’t enough to destroy pretty boy Bloom’s facial features but enough to fuel his desire for revenge.

OK, but all of this happened four months ago in a flashback. Let it go cause we’re certainly not interested. Get back to my man Paxton and the cute daughter. What is this crap with the other local Cayman wannabe criminal (Victor Rasuk) and his connections with the other gang that the acid-thrower is involved with? FOUR MONTHS LATER! Wait, WHAT?? We just did this. We went back, then we went forth. Oh, I see he’s the guy throwing up in the pool and there’s a robbery being planned. FOUR MONTHS EARLIER! Oh, for the love of Rashomon, C’MON!!!

That is precisely the Haven experience in a nutshell and you’ll have a burning desire to punch anything for the frustration it causes. None of the strands are interesting enough to warrant attention and in small elliptical doses become even less so. For a film called "Haven", you would suspect that some attempt might be made to encapsulate on the inner irony of such a safety net. Violence and evil is everywhere and escape is impossible even by the most innocent of victims. But while it’s easy to get a reaction on the nightly news to a tragedy, it will never be as strong then it happening to someone you know and in Haven we get to know no one. If the Caymans decided to conduct nuclear testing by the end, the only thing we would miss are its pretty colors.

Writer/director Frank E. Flowers is way too occupied with finding throwaway dots to connect within the multi-linear framework of the 6,000 short stories he’s trying to tell. There are holes everywhere and certainly no wholes to grasp onto. After the second four-month shift in time, it becomes weary. After the fourth, all interest is lost. They might have even been a fifth and a sixth but I was too busy watching the revolutions of my watch to care about the evolution of anything on screen. Haven is as unfocused a film I’ve seen of late for one with such grand ambitions and film fans may be drawn to the Paxton indie factor only to leave more scarred than Shy and certainly not inhibited enough to let their hatred known. Fortunately there is a safe haven from bad filmmaking and that’s in the warnings that prevent you from choosing to see it. Consider yourself duly warned.

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originally posted: 11/06/04 17:15:10
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Toronto Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Toronto Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

1/08/09 Shaun Wallner This movie was stupid! 2 stars
9/21/06 Eizzen Riveting, tragic, a film that requires "thinking", go see it! 4 stars
9/19/06 downfromledge recommended. Erik,having a bad day? you give DukesofHaz 4stars and this only 1star?! 4 stars
9/17/06 Caymania Will go straight to DVD 3 stars
9/14/06 Kathryn Flawed, but overall quite good. The acting was standout. 5 stars
11/07/05 gemma I loved it, bloom is god! 5 stars
6/19/05 Film Lover Absolute garbage. No depth, no thought in direction, nothing worth watching. 2 stars
11/22/04 Bell Girl What the??? 3 stars
9/19/04 Sarah wonderful, convincing acting and compelling story-very different 5 stars
9/17/04 julie achenbachy this movie was very interesting, very good, and spectular acting 5 stars
9/16/04 Devi I was pleasantly surprised 4 stars
9/14/04 Win O'Malley Terrible! You'd think the producer would know more about banking operations. 2 stars
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  15-Sep-2006 (R)
  DVD: 26-Dec-2006



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