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Havoc - Review

Anne Hathaway in Havoc

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 2 out of 5

ANNE Hathaway ditches her clothes and comes over all potty-mouthed in a bid to lose her clean-cut image in this embarrassing and sometimes seedy look at bored rich teens attempting to sample the gangsta lifestyle.

But as noble as the intent behind her decision may have been, the actress merely looks out of her depth and fails to convince as the character she depicts – although she’s not the only one to disappoint.

So much about Havoc strikes a dud note that it’s difficult to believe the talent that went into making it.

It’s directed by award-winning documentary filmmaker Barbara Kopple and is based on a screenplay by Stephen (Traffic) Gaghan. It also co-stars the likes of Joseph Gordon-Levitt (of Brick fame), Freddy (Six Feet Under) Rodriguez and Bijou Philips.

Yet attempts to be hard-hitting and controversial consistently backfire because of its shaky grip on reality.

The film focuses on Allison (Hathaway), one of a number of teenagers from the affluent Pacific Palisades area of California, who get their kicks from pretending to be something that they’re not.

When she and a group of friends – including Philips’ Emily – head downtown to taste a little danger first-hand, they’re introduced to Hispanic gangbanger Hector (Rodriguez) and immediately fall under his spell.

But as the two girls toy with real-life danger, they quickly find themselves out of their depth and forced to do things against their will that trigger a violent chain of events.

Sadly, what’s designed to be provocative ends up being laughable and occasionally in bad taste.

Most of the actors seem to be struggling with the demands of their roles and look ill-suited to the “street” attitude they’re trying to convey.

Some of the sex scenes also feel exploitative, especially a gang bang that is graphically portrayed.

Designed to shock factor, it merely leaves viewers with a bad taste.

What’s more, a rushed ending leads to the suspicion that the director bottled out and fails to provide the audience with any sense of closure.

In the US, Havoc went straight to DVD amid a flurry of disappointing reviews. It’s easy to see why.

At best, it’s a curiosity piece that may appeal to Hathaway’s most ardent fans. At worst, it’s a pointless attempt to toughen up Disney’s princess that really does the actress very few favours at all.

Certificate: 18
Running time: 85mins