Havoc – The Grass Is Greener

Havoc – The Grass Is Greener

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  1. Have you ever heard of Jonathan Demme’s 2008 film Rachel Getting Married?  It’s not really the most well-known Demme film (he also directed The Silence of the Lambs, Philadelphia, and many other films), but it did get Anne Hathaway her only Oscar nomination.  A short three years earlier, she was also very good in the Barbara Kopple directed crime/drama Havoc which also stars Bijou Phillips (Bully, 2001), Freddy Rodriguez (Grindhouse, 2007), and the familiar faces of Channing Tatum and Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

    What is it about?

    Allison (Anne Hathaway) and Emily (Bijou Phillips) live the rich, suburban Los Angeles lifestyle.  But, like most teenage suburbanites in their community, they like to pretend to be hardcore (thug, street, whatever you want to call it).  They even have their own "crew" led by the white, faux-gangster Toby (Mike Vogel) who also happens to be Allison’s boyfriend.  Rounding out the crew is the dumb, musclebound Nick (Channing Tatum) and the caricature-esque, pot-head/thug Sam (Joseph Gordon-Levitt).

    One night, the crew rolls to the dangerous east side of LA to buy some pot from Latino gang member Hector (Freddy Rodriguez).  Toby thinks the baggie is light (it doesn’t contain the full amount of weed they purchased) and he makes a big deal out of it which leads to him on his knees with Hector’s gun to his head.  Toby finds out he might not be as hard as he thought he was.  Allison, however, finds it exciting.

    One night, Allison and her girls roll back into the east side to find Hector and end up getting invited to his party.  They just enjoy the thrill of the gang lifestyle without actually being a part of it.  Allison and Emily take it even further, though, by continuing to hang out with Hector and his fellow gangsters.  They even decide they want to join Hector’s crew.  The initiation (which goes wrong), however, is something that neither of them can handle.  It threatens to destroy their friendship and drives Emily to the brink of suicide in the days following the initiation.  It also gets them on the bad side of Hector’s violent gang.

    Is it any good?

    This film is not the kind of film you see everyday.  While it deals in stereotypes, Allison has certain ideals that make her character very interesting as she runs against the grain.  It’s hard to like her character, but it’s easy to relate to her.  At the heart of her character is an unbearable lonliness.  She is a girl that doesn’t like where she is in life and doesn’t know how to cope with that.  Sound like anyone you know?  Maybe yourself?

    Havoc addresses the age old saying that the grass is always greener on the other side.  Allison and Emily go to the other side where they think the grass is greener and it’s not green… it’s dreary brown and even black at times.  It’ll make you think twice before you complain about the priviledges you have in life.

    From a story standpoint, it’s relatively engrossing but a bit unbelievable (but what movie isn’t, right?).  The acting, though, is great.  Hathaway doesn’t look like the high schooler she’s playing, but her layered performance will keep you glued to your flatscreen.  Phillips also gives a good performance until the last 30 minutes… then she’s fantastic.  Emily has a strong emotional response to the initiation that goes horribly wrong and Phillips brings this out in some gut-wrenching scenes that you won’t soon forget.

    Overall, Havoc is a dark, sometimes depressing story that has some interesting things to say about being content with your position in life.  It won’t be a film that you want to watch over and over again, but if you are a fan of Anne Hathaway or are into counter-culture films, you should see it.

    Nolan’s Grade:  B-

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