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Safe Haven - Film Review

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by Evangeline Gardiner (subscribe)
Introverted recluse currently residing in Brisbane, Australia. University Student and aspiring journalist.
Published February 17th 2013
With yet another Valentine's Day having arrived on the 14th of this month, it would be a crime not to give us sentimental, hopeless romantics another Nicholas Sparks movie. Author of many titles such as, The Notebook and Dear John, Sparks has undeniably attained much success and fame in Hollywood and in the eyes of an immeasurable amount of women.

The release of Safe Haven (rated a 6.3 on IMDB by 1,784 users) on V-Day would have inevitably been the cause of much wariness for the boyfriends and much happiness for the hopeless romantics, such as myself.

Nicholas Sparks, along with the director of this new movie, Lasse Hallstrom, managed to produce a romantic comedy with a collection of intense elements including suspense, mild violence and the effects of severe alcoholism. These elements, along with a new thriller element not seen in other works by Sparks, make Safe Haven more appealing to his male viewers - mostly the boyfriends who are reluctantly dragged along to the movie with their love-drunk girlfriend.

Safe Haven Poster

Julianne Hough plays Katie, the heroine of the movie. After catching a bus from Boston, Massachusetts, Katie finds herself in the quiet, peaceful town of Southport, North Carolina, while running from her twisted and abusive marriage with Detective Tierney (David Lyons). Enter Alex (Josh Duhamel), the sensitive, caring widow who is the polar opposite of Katie's husband. While working at his local store and raising his two children, Lexie and Josh, Alex cautiously attempts to 'woo' Katie, who is at first reluctant to let her guard down. Although the histories of both the characters undoubtedly affect their relationship in the beginning, it is no surprise that they soon begin to fall in love - resulting in ecstatic sighs from us woozy hopeless romantics!

Still of Julianne Hough and Josh Duhamel, released by Relativity Media

However, just as Katie and Alex begin to find their happiness within each other, the past unfortunately interferes with that of the present. Tierney, Katie's abusive husband, eventually tracks down her whereabouts in Southport, wasting no time in going to find her. With his alcohol problem and obsessiveness, Tierney soon wreaks havoc in Katie's newly peaceful and wonderfully bliss life. Contrary to that of Sparks' past films and novels, Tierney does not cause immense traumatic stress on viewers by killing Alex or Katie, however he does set Alex's store on fire while Lexie is still on the top floor. Once the dramatic encounter with Tierney ends with his death, the film ends on a bittersweet note, with a video montage of Katie, Alex and the two children spending time together while 'Jo' (Cobie Smulders, How I Met Your Mother) reads the letter she addressed to 'Her' before she passed.

Juxtaposed with Sparks' past movies and books, the romance in Safe Haven lacks immeasurable on-screen chemistry between the main characters. Compared to that of actress Rachel McAdams and actor Ryan Gosling (The Notebook, 2004), the portrayal of the romance by Julianne Hough and Josh Duhamel was rather mild. Although the new 'thriller' element and other dark elements were a nice new touch to a work by Sparks, it took too much attention away from the most significant element - the romance.

Nevertheless, Safe Haven, is an enjoyable romantic flick which I would definitely recommend going to see. The jaw-dropping twist at the end of the movie brings back familiar emotions which are felt at the end of all of Sparks' movies and novels. This ending, albeit rather mostly shocking, will no doubt be the cause of a waterfall of tears.

Safe Haven, released by Relativity Media and rated PG-13 runs for 115 minutes. Be sure to buy a ticket and do not forget to pack tissues in your handbag, just in case!

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When: Now showing
Where: In cinemas
Cost: Check with local cinema
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