White-collar criminals and dangerous thugs, haves and have-nots, sex and drugs, all mixed together in a secretive, tropical setting: "Haven" has the makings of a decadent nighttime soap, but none of the components of a cohesive, satisfying film.
It probably sounded like a juicy idea to writer-director Frank E. Flowers, a native of the Cayman Islands who set and shot his movie there. The 24-year-old wanted to expose the ugly side of paradise with his intersecting, overstylized stories of greed and deception.
But even the supposedly sympathetic characters _ a young couple from disparate socio-economic backgrounds whose love is forbidden and doomed _ merely come off as whiny and annoying.
The story of Shy (Orlando Bloom, who’s also an executive producer) and Andrea (Zoe Saldana) is just one of those plot lines, all of which feature impossibly beautiful characters who are impossible to care about. Andrea is black and her father is wealthy; Shy is white and comes from a poor fishing family. When her dad discovers that she’s given up her virginity to him, he sends Andrea’s wannabe gangster brother (Anthony Mackie _ see? we told you everyone in this thing was gorgeous) to end the relationship.
Meanwhile, Miami businessman Carl Ridley (Bill Paxton) has just scurried down to the island to protect his ill-gotten gains. The feds have come knocking at his door (one of whom is played by an underused Bobby Cannavale) and all Carl’s had time to do is grab his curvy, blond daughter, 18-year-old Pippa (Agnes Bruckner), and a $1 million in cash.
Once they arrive, Pippa finds someone already staying in their condo: teenage con man Fritz ("Raising Victor Vargas" star Victor Rasuk), who dashes out but forgets to grab his bag of pot, which Pippa keeps for herself. (Even though she’s pampered and impudent, she’s probably the most fun character of all, and what happens to her on the island is more intriguing than what happens to her father.)
Fritz is well-known among the locals as a player _ stealing cars, breaking into boats and schmoozing up the gang leaders, including the powerful Ritchie Ritch (Raz Adoti), to whom he owes money. But when Fritz tries to work it with Pippa, he’s not charming, just hyper and ingratiating.
Carl’s only ally on the island _ or so he thinks _ is local banker Allen (Stephen Dillane), who’s too busy scheming and getting drunk to be of any help.
Flowers follows one of these story lines for a long time, then drops it for another, then latches onto another, until it becomes clear toward the end at a lavish birthday party how they’re all intertwined. Each of them has drama, but none of them has any dramatic tension. Which is too bad because Flowers obviously understands this place and its innate class and cultural struggles, which have evolved as the Caymans have become a booming centre for banks and businesses _ legal and otherwise.
It makes you wish he’d made a documentary on the subject instead. He’s young, though _ and there will surely be no shortage of beautiful people doing bad things.