Made three years ago this drama/thriller is only now making its way, very quietly, straight to DVD. Written and directed by the then 24-year-old Cayman Islander Frank E. Flowers, Haven feature Orlando Bloom and veteran Bill Paxton, but despite praise failed to get much notice from distributors.
Over 90 minutes Flowers combines two loosely entwined stories, told in three acts, creating an involving portrait of the Cayman Islands.
The director adds shade and colour as the narrative progresses, almost painting the story rather than telling it. Characters are one, two and three-dimensional, and Flowers continues to play with our expectations as characters are presented to evoke a mood or theme.
Female lead Agnes Bruckner is certainly one of the least complex characters. She’s a girl taken to the Caribbean by her crooked businessman father. We explore this paradise with her and, as weakly written as it is, her role is integral – she’s less of a protagonist than a breathing plot device. The narrative shifts gears 28 minutes in as Orlando Bloom, playing a lovelorn ex-pat, takes centre stage. He’s much more complex, and Bloom himself says on the making-of extra that depth was added to entice him to the project.
With a million dollars and a fatal shooting as more conventional plot devices, Haven isn’t original, but it balances it weaknesses with commendable strengths. In creating what is certainly more than just a travelogue, Flowers shows real flair. It’s also admirable that baby-faced Bloom never tries to hijack the film.
Structurally close to Saw, Haven is a drama with some well-drawn characters, unexpected twists and enjoyable music video-style photography and editing. It’s a far more involving tale from the Caribbean than we’re used to seeing Bloom’s name attached to. Richard Hawes
Click here to buy Haven.