(2006) * 1/2 R
98 min. Freestyle Releasing. Director: Frank E. Flowers. Cast: Victor Rasuk, Anthony Mackie, Bill Paxton, Orlando Bloom, Razaaq Adoti.

As the 2006 Toronto Film Festival unspools, it's instructive to note that Haven played the 2004 festival and only now makes its way into US theatres. As is so often the case, the release of a long-delayed film demonstrates why it sat on the shelf so long. Writer-director Frank E. Flowers fails to invest his dark and dreary drama with significance or any authentic reason to care for his characters.

An ensemble drama about how the supposed haven of the Cayman Islands is, in fact, a personal hell for its residents, Haven underserves an excess of characters. While unscrupulous businessman Carl Ridley (Bill Paxton) hides cash from the Feds, his eighteen-year-old daughter Pippa (Agnes Bruckner) awkwardly navigates the drug-laden party scene. Star-crossed young lovers Shy and Andrea (Orlando Bloom and Zoë Saldana) run afoul of Andrea's tough-guy brother Hammer (Anthony Mackie).

Native Caymanian Flowers reaches in numerous directions in search of grand design, and does himself no favors with nonlinear editing. Haven remains steadfastly uninvolving and dull—the arrhythmic narrative loses track of characters for long stretches, and if Flowers has a point (money is the root of all evil? trust no one?), it's never apparent. Haven's best feature is Stephen Dillane, in a fierce little performance as Ridley's ruthless partner. If only Haven were his story, Flowers might have had something.

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