Havoc

Havoc

***1/2

Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

A modest little film, tightly controlled throughout, Havoc provides the ubiquitous Anne Hathaway with a role she can really get her teeth into and rounds out its cast with some of the best supporting actors in the business. It's a teen film with a difference, much bleaker than most. Whilst this may put off some of those in its natural constituency, others will be delighted to encounter a film this real, a film which deals with the world as it actually is.

Teenagers Allison and Emily have never encountered the real world. Living in a Californian gated community where housing, food, money and expensive toys have always been easy to come by, they dress up like gangstas, listen to the music and try to talk the talk. Though their parents ignore them, their every practical need is catered for, and they're desperately bored. When Allison is caught in an encounter with a genuine gang member in the impoverished east of the nearby city, she is fascinated, eager for more. As she tries to impress and to learn how the other half live, she finds herself getting in deeper than she can handle.

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Beautifully shot, with innovative camerawork highlighting the isolation of the gated community and the changes which occur as the girls drive east, Havoc is tightly paced and gripping throughout. Freddy Rodriguez makes a compelling foil to Hathaway's wide-eyed but resilient rich girl and Bijou Phillips gives a complex and sensitive performance as best friend Emily, whose relationship with Allison is tested as she struggles with dangers both physical and moral.

The film is surprisingly convincing in its portrayal of each distinctly different cultural environment, avoiding the easy conclusion that everyone, given the choice, would prefer the world of the rich. Though it doesn't really have anything new to say and those over the age of 25 will find few surprises, it's intelligently handled and well worth watching.

Reviewed on: 19 Oct 2006
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Two rich girls go looking for trouble and find it.
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Director: Barbara Kopple

Writer: Steven Gaghan and Jessica Kaplan

Starring: Anne Hathaway, Bijou Phillips, Freddy Rodriguez, Matt O'Leary, Michael Biehn, Laura San Giacomo

Year: 2005

Runtime: 93 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: US, Germany

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