Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Havoc (2005)

A muddled film about middle class kids slumming it, that doesn't quite know what it wants to be.

Havoc is the story of Allison, a girl from a wealthy but broken home, and her similarly rich friends who do the unpredictable thing of rebelling against their parents by getting into hiphop and gangsta culture. They quickly find themselves in over their heads, in what could have been an interesting way of showing the gulf between two lifestyles that are so far apart but so geographically close. There are one or two acknowledgements of that sort bt they're pretty hamfisted and really break the immersion; at one point a drug dealer literally takes Ally on a tour of the neighbourhood pointing out how bad it is. Not exactly subtle. But ultimately, you get a tale that seems a bit more 'lock up your daughters because the dirty poors will destroy them!'.

In some ways the film feels rushed. Some plot threads are left hanging, in particular the character who acts as a window for the audience. A budding filmmaker friend of Allison's so-called "crew" is making a documentary about why they identify with the gangsta thug lifestlye, but he's quickly dropped off and only revisited once to push the plot along . The ending also feels very unpolished. The exciting climax of the final act happens, and the film just ends. Those events aren't dealt with and you're just left with a quick sign off.

Overall, Havoc's a film that doesn't quite know what it was trying to be. If it were a lighter story about some kids getting in over there head it would work, and if it were a slightly deeper film about the pain and loneliness felt at both ends of the class system it would work even better. But what you get is a little bit too much of the former, and only becomes the latter in short, hard bursts that can be a bit too much at once.

It's a prime example of the execution not quite matching up to the idea. Anne Hathaway in the lead as Allison is the only real saving grace in terms of production. The multiple facades the character has are entertaining and believable, as are the cracks that appear in the masks she wears either when alone or put on the spot.

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