What's a little harmless soft-core exploitation film such as "Havoc" (2005) among friends? Not much - unless it stars Anne Hathaway, you know, THAT Anne Hathaway, Ella-of-the-Enchanted-Forest Anne Hathaway. Then, it becomes a big deal. Without her, this independent (Media 8 Entertainment) effort by director Barbara Kopple ends up on late-night cable and then quickly is forgotten. With her, "Havoc" becomes a cult classic.
|Gangsters aren't so tough - they're just misunderstood. Uh huh. That is the message of "Havoc."|
The story portrays a typical fish-out-of-water scenario. A pair of naive young girls (Anne Hathaway, Bijou Phillips) set their sights on East L.A. to see what all the fuss is about "gangstas" and hip-hop.
|Anne Hathaway gets in a number of sultry poses in "Havoc."|
There, they meet a vicious Mexican drug dealer named Hector (Freddy Rodriguez) and Latino gang-bangers.
|Bijou Philips is good, but she's no Anne Hathaway in "Havoc."|
Suddenly, it doesn't seem as glamorous to the girls as it had back home. They try to get out, but find that is not quite as easy to leave the barrio as it was to get in.
|Things start getting a little freaky in the Barrio in "Havoc."|
The film was scripted by a 17-year-old girl (Jessica Kaplan) who sadly perished shortly thereafter. High art "Havoc" is not, but it is not bad for a 17-year-old.
|Young love in "Havoc."|
Heck, Kaplan got the darn thing financed, just doing that alone puts her accomplishments above 99.944% of all the other screenwriters on earth. However, "Havoc" also is obvious and heavy-handed, showing all the signs of a formulaic plot with a trite outcome. Well, nothing's perfect.
|Anne Hathaway stretching her craft in "Havoc."|
Naturally, screenwriter Kaplan felt she couldn't portray minorities in a negative light - why, that might be construed as (gasp!) racist or, like, something. Thus, everybody in East L.A. is portrayed as being just super-wonderful and normal once you get past the gruff exteriors.
|It pays to wear a brim if you want to be with Anne Hathaway in "Havoc."|
"Havoc" was done better back in 1985 in Martin Scorsese's obscure "After Hours" starring Griffin Dunne and Rosanna Arquette. In that film, a man gets caught in a similarly alien environment, in that case a neighborhood of New York City populated by eccentric characters. As art, "After Hours" is much more interesting than "Havoc," but "Havoc" has Anne Hathaway doing her all, so it will remain popular for a long time.
|Anne Hathaway lays back in "Havoc."|
In "Havoc," in place of the creepy Soho of "After Hours," the creepy setting is East L.A. Instead of sexually deviant women cornering our hero, there are gang-bangers cornering our heroines who look evil but have great haircuts and stylish threads. If forced to decide between the two scenarios myself, I'd probably go with the East L.A. gangbanger scenario simply because it occurs in daylight and not the oppressive night of "After Hours."
|Anne Hathaway posing as sexily as she can in "Havoc."|
Anne Hathaway gets nude in "Havoc." Well, it's either her or her body double, who knows these days, but it certainly looks like Anne Hathaway. Anne Hathaway has simulated sex. That's about the most striking thing about "Havoc." Is Anne Hathaway "all that"? Not really, but you'll be the judge of that. Maybe you'll find her spectacular. That's why these types of films are popular, people are curious and want to see "the goods" and draw their own conclusions. So, Anne Hathaway performed a public service by filming "Havoc."
|Anne Hathaway could use a tramp stamp in "Havoc."|
So, that's it for "Havoc." Anne Hathaway looks bored at all the wrong times in "Havoc" but goes through the expected paces. If that doesn't turn you on (it doesn't me), may I suggest that you watch "After Hours" instead with the fabulous Teri Garr. You'll thank me.
Below is the trailer for "Havoc."