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3.6 out of 5 stars
Haven
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVD
Nonlinear storytelling has become fairly common for cinema, but HAVEN adds a few more levels. Most notable is the wonderful acting and great script. It isn't excellent or mind-blowing, but entertainment-wise it certainly draws one in.

Orlando Bloom (LORD OF THE RINGS) stars as Shy, a young man given that name when he witnessed his father bludgeoned to death and then didn't speak for years. Now grown into a somewhat respectable young fellow, he lives on a small Caribbean island where he works as a boat cleaner.

Intersecting with his life is that of Andrea (PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MAN'S CHEST), a beautiful native islander who's family is fairly-well moneyed and protects her as if she were a princess. When they discover that Shy and Andrea are secret lovers, they immediately attack Shy, leaving him facially scarred.

Carl Ridley (Bill Paxton, TWISTER) and his daughter Pippa (Agnes Buckner, THE IRIS EFFECT) just celebrated Pippa's 18th birthday. But all is wrong with their world. Carl has some shady business dealings and the treasury department is hot on his heels, thus forcing them to leave their Florida home and flee to the Caribbean.

All of these people's lives are destined to intersect in interesting and often deadly ways. But the beginning of the film is actually the end, and the end just the beginning. We're introduced to this fact about 3/4 of the way through the movie as we start witnessing similar events but seen in more detail or through another character's viewpoint.

The film is really about love and all the terrible things that can result because of this strange emotion. Whether it's young love, the love of a father for his daughter, the love of money, or forbidden love (i.e., closet gay), Haven takes us deep into the terrible ties that bind love to all of us.

Well acted and with a writer/director only 27 years of age, this is a moderately impressive first look at Frank E. Flowers' film-making abilities.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on February 22, 2007
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
Sometimes it's hard to understand why - or why not - films are released. This one, shot in 2004, I believe, hasn't seen the big screen so far, it was only shown at some festivals. Which is a pity, as it shows an ensemble of fantastic actors in a gripping story. It's worth seeing this one. Bill Paxton as a not quite so legal business man is great, and so is Orlando Bloom, portraying here a shy boy with a soft heart. Zoe Saldana as his sweetheart is good, too. Unlike many movies this one isn't shallow - no marshmallow rosy days, no all dreams come true, but cruelsome sometimes, touching and very moving.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on March 3, 2007
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
What is wrong with all the people leaving these bad reviews. I'm not a big fan of any of the cast members in the film and was not expecting much after all of the critisizm that I have been hearing about the movie. It was a very pleasant surprise to see that this movie was FANTASTIC!!!!!

It's to bad that it did not make it to the masses. It really deserves a ton of awards. I am a big movie going and love the big special effects and all that jazz, but this movie didn't need any of that. It had me captivated from beginning to end. I stood up on my couch at the end and applauded the ending. Wow!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Fantastic!!!!!!!!!

O my God!!!!! Fantastic!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on November 18, 2006
Format: DVD
Not to be confused with the 2001 made-for-TV film of the same title.

Set in the beautiful Cayman Islands, `Haven' uses a narrative style which reminds us of such films as `Amores perros' or 'Traffic.' It has two stories connected to each other very loosely; one is about an American businessman Carl (Bill Paxton) who fled his Miami house because of the FBI's investigation, and has arrived at this sunny island hiding cash under his shirt, with his 18-year-old daughter Pippa (Agnes Bruckner) in tow. This story also involves one corrupt lawyer (Stephen Dillane) and one local small-time hood who pursues Pippa and invites her to the party at night, unbeknownst to her father.

The other is about a local boy Shy (Orlando Bloom), who falls in love with a girl named Andrea (Zoe Saldana), daughter of his employer. One day Shy spends a night with Andrea while her brother and father are away from home, and you know, they are not happy to see this man running away from her room next morning. Her overprotective father's disapproval of their relationship and her hot-tempered brother Hammer's anger results in much more serious consequences that affect the life of both Shy and Andrea.

(So it must be said that Orlando Bloom is not the star of the film; more correctly, he is the star of one story of `Haven.')

Director Frank E. Flowers, who grew up in the Cayman Island, makes good use of the locations - the sea, the beach, the streets and even the dialect. But he seems more interested in showing us the darker side of the islands which are, the film shows, rife with the crimes related to drug and other shady businesses. Even in this paradise people are easily attracted to cocaine and fast money, and if that is the primary purpose of making this film, he has surely achieved it.

But the way he presents these two stories needs more improvement. Repeated flashbacks in Carl's story (that also includes a secretary played by Joy Bryant) are likely to unnecessarily confuse the viewers, and probably I am not the only one who prefers a more traditional narrative to follow this kind of plot where we are more interested in what is going to happen than in what has already happened. Of course putting pieces of puzzle into the right places would be thrilling in films like `Pulp Fiction' or `Traffic,' where apparently jumbled order of sequences will gradually form a web of characters and events in order to finally surprise us, but I just don't see the reason this narrative technique should be employed here.

I know it is well-intentioned, but I am not sure if the Romeo and Juliet-like love between Andrea and Shy is really relevant to the suggested image of `lost paradise' which is getting infested by crimes. The changes that happen to these lovers are too drastic for me to believe, making me ask myself: Does their forbidden love represent something, like, interracial discord on the island (if there is any, I mean)? Or something like a conflict between haves and have-nots? Sorry, but I could not find any answer.

`Haven' was on the shelf for two years, but it is not as bad as the delayed release date might imply. It has strong moments as both noir and love story, and generally well-acted. Though Orlando Bloom's fans will not like what happens to his character, I find his acting better than in the summer season blockbuster. But the best in the film is Bill Paxton and Stephen Dillane, to whom the film solely belongs in the last 15 minutes.

`Haven' has one social message at its core and two fairly interesting tales to tell, and also its beautiful scenery to show. But its lost innocence theme and melodramatic love story could have been better with another way of telling them, more straightforward narrative.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVD
Frank E. Flowers is a newcomer to the cinema scene and his early outing HAVEN shows both the flaws and strengths of early work. Seemingly under the influence of the current successful trend of movies with multiple stories that are shot in cross sequence to show enigmatic interrelationships (BABEL, TRAFFIC, CRASH, THE HOURS, etc), Flowers attempts to tie together big crime drama with intimate love story and the result, at this stage of filmmaking, is disjointed and aching for a good film editor. There are moments - but they require patience on the part of the viewer to stay with the film to the strange ending.

The big crime idea is placed in the hands of Bill Paxton who with his daughter (Agnes Bruckner of DREAMLAND) takes his 'off shore money' from Miami to Grand Cayman island under the tutelage of smarmy lawyer Stephen Dillane. An island character (Victor Rasuk - a very promising young find from RAISING VICTOR VARGAS, LORDS OF DOGTOWN) begins to put the play on Bruckner, a factor that involves him as an islander in the big crime syndicate from the US. Bump. Next story involves Orlando Bloom as a listless wanderer in love with an island beauty (Zoe Saldana) whose family objects to the liaison. The brother (Anthony Mackie - who continues to find depth in roles in films like BROTHER TO BROTHER, HALF NELSON, THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE etc) rages after Bloom, scarring him for life. The interplay within each story is well enough focused but the apparent compare-and-contrast motive of weaving these two disparate yet core-similar stories together is a problem for Flowers.

The cast is a mixed bag, with some superb actors along side some wannabes. And oddly the top actors (such as Bobby Cannavale) are placed in less important roles than some of the lesser experienced ones. The film is pretty to look at, has its moments, and shows promise, but it is not one to place on the 'must see' list. Grady Harp, January 07
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on January 12, 2007
Format: DVD
First off, when I rented this movie and saw on the cover, "From the Makers of Crash," I almost cried, because I detest the movie "Crash" (my review of "Crash" explains why.) So I was in a for big dissappointment.

Through all of the bad and negative reviews I read of this movie, everyone seemed angry that Bill Paxton's story cut off right to Shy and Andrea's (Orlando and Zoe's) love story. But they have to understand that this film was not centered around the American seeking refuge in this Caymanian "Haven," but instead it was this love story and how things fall apart in other surroundings that can be connected to Bill's plotline. If you don't want to see a love story, then don't watch the film. But if you want to be captivated by young lovers and their fate, then "Haven" is one you'll remember for years to come.

One thing important to remember is Zoe's character is still in high school which explains her naivete and really really immature actions when it comes to real life and real love. But after Shy, as so many reviewers use the polite term, "deflowers" her, he opens a door to her that maybe he forgot to close when he escaped from her bedroom the next morning.

I can see the parallelism to a degree of Romeo and Juliet symbolism, but the ending is alot harder to digest.

I do though understand why some people would be dissappointed in this movie, because alot of things were not explained that could add to the story and make it even more enjoyable.

Nevertheless, Frank E. Flowers did a wonderful job in capturing the atmosphere of the Cayman Islands, the thugging and the cheap life young ones can get into should they stray from a good path.

Words cannot describe this movie, it was flat out great besides a few missing pieces that would make a little more sense to this puzzle, but its not a confusing, erratic mess like some want you to believe. I love movies that know how to keep it real, that know how to show a way of life from an insider's perspective and this is the gift that Frank E. Flowers has.

As an admirer of his, I was so happy to see Orlando Bloom in a REAL film that is REAL life for many not just in the Cayman Islands, but around the world, like Africa, South America, London, and of course cities in the United States like New York or Los Angeles for example. In so many countries, the youth understand that to be respected is to be feared; [wannabe] gangstas can be found everywhere.

Like one of the previous viewers commented below, I wonder if someone with a bigger name did this film, would it have gotten A+ reviews. I think so.

Encore Frank, Zoe and Orlando!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on March 8, 2007
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
Solid performances by Bill Paxton, Orlando Bloom and Zoe Saldana. This movie gives you a glimpse of Paradise you don't see very often. It's also nice to see Orlando Bloom in a film other than a period piece and playing a character that's not necessarily a good guy all the time.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on March 4, 2007
Format: DVD
Poweful movie that kept you drawn in. I really was not expecting much from this but really enjoyed it. A great breath of fresh air. If you want something a little different and kind of gtitty check this out.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on December 28, 2006
Format: DVD
I was one of the lucky few who was able to actually catch this in the theater. I thoroughly enjoyed it then, and was surprised when all the reviews came back negative. The movie may be slightly confusing at first--but not to the point where it doesn't all make sense in the end. The acting was great, the story and setting were mostly original, and, most importantly, the characters were interesting. You can't help but care deeply for Pippa and Shy, even as they make foolish decisions (like young people do) that spiral into unintended consequences. Especially considering the age of the young director, and that this is his debut film, I think it's a pretty impressive piece of work. I can't help but feel that if the same exact film had been directed by one of the "established" directors that everyone considers an artist--like Quentin Tarantino or Christopher Nolan--that it would have done well.

Here's hoping it finds new life and the audience it deserves on DVD.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 7, 2007
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
the introduction of all the characters had me baffled at first. I couldn't see the connection. It wasn't until Shy(Orlando Bloom) went to the party that everything came together. The language was a bit rough but all in all I enjoyed the movie. Isn't that what it's about, enjoying and being entertained. I found myself in tears at the end because of the broken lives that seem to stem from one incident. Those who are left behind to figure out what went wrong and why. I must admit I got the movie because Orlando Bloom was in it. I love everything he does. This is no exception. Other than the language and a few indiscreet moments that could have been left out, the film did what it was suppose to do, entertain me.
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