Eventually, every girl grows up. Cinema dictates this. Sometimes, that move into adulthood is seamless (see Jodie Foster, Claire Danes, Scarlett Johanssen, Kirsten Dunst). Sometimes it is agonizingly painful (see the Olsen twins, Hilary Duff, and -- arguably -- Drew Barrymore).
Sometimes it is as curious as all get-out (see Anne Hathaway in Havoc). I don't know if I've ever seen a more radical departure of film roles than Hathaway's decision to go from the Princess Diaries films to this one. Hathaway's former work is almost unilaterally square in the rated-G realm. Her PG-rated movies earned those ratings primarily due to events like Hathaway falling on her butt.
Havoc gives us Hathaway, topless within 10 minutes, and later visiting a downtown L.A. gang's lair and begging to become one of them. Her best pal (Bijou Phillips) consents to having sex with three of the gang bangers (now there's a double entendre) as a rite of passage.
Something tells me Hathaway won't be making The Princess Diaries 3.
As for the film, it's surprisingly unmemorable. Hathaway plays Allison, a spoiled rich girl from Pacific Palisades whose parents are never home (a mortal sin in the world of cinema). To amuse herself she adopts a faux gangster personality with her friends, and during a drug buy-gone-sour one night, she becomes enamored with the real thing. That's it in a nutshell, though the story is more about how alienated Allison is in the real world, and how her gangsta persona is really just a sad put-on. Ultimately, a romance with gang leader Hector (Freddy Rodriguez, unrecognizable from his clean-cut Six Feet Under days) feels forced and wholly unrealistic, and it quickly grinds the film to a sudden ending.
Written by Stephen Gaghan, the film has more in common with his lesser works like Abandon than it does with his vaunted Traffic. And while the press has focused on what a departure this is for Hathaway, less has been said of its director: Oscar-winning documentarian Barbara Kopple (Harlan County, U.S.A., American Dream, Wild Man Blues), who creates her first and only narrative feature film here, after 30 years in the business. While Kopple's done similar work for TV shows like Oz, I was stunned to see how adept she was with what amounts to an undeveloped script and a difficult story.
As for Hathaway, she proves without a doubt that she's been underutilized as an actress for far too long. She wholly owns the picture -- especially over the zoned-out Phillips. Here's hoping she doesn't have to get naked next time out just to get people's attention. Not that I'm complaining...