‘Safe Haven’ not typical love story

Posted April 2, 2013


After Nicholas Sparks’ success from both “The Notebook” and “Dear John,” he is trying to keep the momentum going with his latest romance movie, “Safe Haven.”

Josh Duhamel and Julianne Hough at the Safe Haven movie premiere.

Josh Duhamel and Julianne Hough at the “Safe Haven” movie premiere.

“Safe Haven” was released on Valentine’s Day and, for all you lovebirds, was the perfect mushy movie to see that night.

Most would think that if you like love, the beach and two hot actors meeting each other on the screen, then you would love this movie as well because that is the basic theme for all of Sparks’ stories.

But “Safe Haven” is Sparks’ attempt at a much more thrilling and action-packed romantic ride, rather than just his usual tragic romance theme. Most people know what to expect when going into one of his movies and “Safe Haven” is no different except for a slight plot twist at the end and maybe some lower reviews.

The plot opens up following Katie (Julianne Hough), who is attempting to escape her troubled past and, in doing so, moves to North Carolina. The police are following her because she was accused of possibly committing a murder by stabbing her ex-lover.

The bus she takes down East stops at Southport, N.C., where she stops for a drink at the local corner store and meets the other ridiculously handsome lead role, since there is always two in these types of movies, Alex (Josh Duhamel).

The background in this scene is the state’s coast, which is, of course, a beautiful sunny beach. This is cliché for any love film because it sets a romantic tone and adds a touch of romance to the overly contrived plot.

The story then moves rather slowly when showing Katie shying away from meeting friends or people in general in this new town that she was thrown into. She also shies away from her feelings with Alex, although he makes it clear that he likes her by offering her a bike because he sees her walking around town a lot. Alex is also drawn to Katie because she made a nice and funny gesture towards his daughter in his store when they first met.

Josh Duhamel plays a widower in this film, which Katie doesn’t find out until later and which also complicates the plot more and draws her more away from getting to know him.

The only thing that really keeps the plot moving is the cop on hot pursuit to find Katie. The Boston cop played by David Lyons is constantly on Katie’s trail throughout the movie, which keeps it entertaining and not just another love movie because the viewer knows some secret about Katie’s past must be very bad and revealed in the end.

The plot-twisting reveal in the end is really a shocker and makes “Safe Haven” different from every other love movie, both in a good and bad way. Let’s just say the plot twist is not what two lovers would want to see on a day of romance.

The performances seen throughout the movie are mostly believable. Hough is outshined by her co-stars in the movie though and this is probably due to lack of experience since she is known only as a good dancer, not an actress yet.

Duhamel and Lyons put on excellent performances compared to the rather stiff Hough. Duhamel is very natural and in a way makes Hough seem better because of their undeniable chemistry in the movie. He sort of breaks her out of her shell and backpacks her through this film, since it is her first.

Duhamel is clearly very good at playing the handsome and charming hunk that tries to win the girl’s heart by the end of the movie, and he definitely does just that in this movie, even though Katie’s past makes this difficult. He tells her she is “safe” with him, which ties into the title of the movie.

During the end of the movie, about the last half-hour, Katie’s past violently confronts her present, which makes the film move very quickly and is very entertaining. This last part is by far the best and answers many questions about her life and turns the movie into a good one. This type of romance movie written by Sparks’ is much better than his sappy mushy love ones we usually see on the big screen.

“Safe Haven” is not your typical love movie, it is a thriller and if you are into this genre then it is one to see, but maybe should have been directed and cast more carefully, in my opinion.

  • “Safe Haven”
  • Released: Feb. 14, 2013 (USA)
  • Leading actors: Julianne Hough and Josh Duhamel
  • Director: Lasse Hallstrom
  • Written by: Nicholas Sparks and Dana Stevens
  • Runtime: 115 minutes
  • Normal ticketing price ($10-12), Grove theatres offer discount movie tickets Monday through Wednesday for $5 a ticket.
  • Rated PG-13
  • Genre-Romance
  • Rating- 3.5 out of 5 stars
  • Sound track is available online but is nothing special