Review by Michael Jacobson
Anne Hathaway, Bijou Phillips, Freddy Rodriguez, Mike Vogel, Michael
Biehn, Laura San Giacomo
Director: Barbara Kopple
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio: New Line
Length: 92 Minutes
Release Date: November 29, 2005
wanna know about us?"
guess the best comparison here is to Julie Andrews in S.O.B.
She was America's G-rated sweetheart, the star of such enduring
family classics as Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music, baring it
all for the camera. Now it's Anne Hathaway's turn.
Hathaway, who lit up the screen for Disney in movies like The Princess
Ella Enchanted, went for the "I'm no teen angel" role in Havoc.
If she wanted to strike a blow against typecasting, she succeeded. She probably put her reputation as a family film favorite on
a wonderfully talented actress and breathtakingly beautiful to boot, but it's a
shame that if she was going to risk it all on a meaty adult role, she chose this
one. Havoc would have been a
jumbled, unfocused disappointment in any year, but the fact that it came out the
same year as Crash was extra bad news. Crash was the most moving, haunting and intelligent
treatise on race relations in recent memory.
Havoc is a film that doesn't know what it wants to say...only what
it wants to see.
plays Allison Lang, a rich kid from Palisades.
She hangs out with others like her:
all well-to-do, all white, all wanting to be something they aren't.
They've embraced ghetto culture, and wear the threads and talk the talk,
never knowing how silly they look and sound to the rest of the world.
night she and her friends cross over to the East side of Los Angeles for a
little adventure. They get a little
more than they bargained for in Hector (Rodriguez), who actually lives the life
they only play-act at. He
humiliates Allison's boyfriend (Vogel), and it seems to turn her on.
Soon she's going back to find out more about life on the other side of
it a commentary on economic and social divisions? Maybe up to a point. Maybe
we're as na´ve as Allison in thinking that such lines are easily overcome.
Or maybe we're just sucker-punched when she and her best friend Emily
(Phillips) agree to do whatever is necessary to join Hector and his crew. Then
one of them finds she'll do whatever is necessary to get
OUT of it as well. Ultimately
someone dies, and we don't even know who. I
guess it didn't really matter.
what exactly was the point of it all? That's
the question that lingers after the credits roll.
It's like making a picture with pieces coming from several different
jigsaw puzzles. There's even a kid
making a documentary about the Palisades wannabes (a sorely overused story
technique), but he's frequently forgotten until the time comes to make some sort
of assessment of the goings-on.
there a point to showing that a rich girl with influential parents can get out
of jail faster than some poor gang member with no family?
Is there a point to illustrating that drug dealers make buck because rich
people seek THEM out? Is there a point to how much easier it is to take the word of
an honor student over that of a disreputable lowlife with a rap sheet?
In real life, the answer is yes. In
Havoc, the answer is "I don't know...what do YOU think?"
nothing in the film that makes us view people of any race with any sympathy.
So what is the ultimate message? That
our imbedded fears and prejudices are well-founded?
That whether white, black, Hispanic or otherwise, you're bound to get
stabbed in the back? That kids
whose lives are essentially big vacuums will latch onto anything to fill their
last one is not such a bad concept, except it was done much more powerfully in
films like Kids and Bully. Those
movies hit you a gut level and left you queasy. Havoc just leaves you annoyed and frustrated.
a bad looking transfer...New Line always comes through on DVD, and this one is
no exception. Though showing some
effects of being a lower-budgeted film, images are still well rendered
throughout, with minimal grain. A
few colors look a little over saturated, but that's probably owing to the purse
strings. A decent effort overall.
Dolby Digital and DTS surround tracks definitely have dynamic range and bottom
end, but that's owing to the never-ending stream of rap music that dominates the
soundtrack. Dialogue sounds good,
and there are some spare uses of surround effects in crowded scenes.