Safe Haven Reviews
Adapted from yet another sappy Nicolas Sparks novel, Safe Haven with its picturesque small town locale populated by good-hearted southern folks in candy-box houses and a stunning sprawling coastline hits all the familiar notes but has an undeniable undercurrent of manipulation.
Taking a second giant career leap backwards (after his other schmaltzy Sparks project 2010's Dear John), Director Lasse Hallstrom, who created such dramatic treats as My Life as a Dog and What's Eating Gilbert Grape slips further and further into laughable territory with more predictably formulaically fare.
In an attempt not to divulge too many plot details, here is a really basic summary. But I warn you, not guessing the end may not be an option.
Running, bloody handed in the dead of night, Katie (Julianne Hough) abruptly jumps the nearest bus out of Boston. Stopping on-route to Atlanta in the charming tourist spot of Southport, North Carolina, Katie has a moment of serine clarity on the wharf and decides to remain.
Renting a rustic cottage, Katie hikes daily to the local convenience shop where owner Alex (Josh Duhamel) takes an instant shine. A recent widower and father of two; the willful Josh (Noah Lomax) and curious Lexie (Mimi Kirkland), Alex generous attempts at kindness unnerve the vigilantly alert and connection shunning Katie.
Although her self-preservation shield is slowly brought down by Alex, his children and the help of a close yet myserious neighbor, outrunning her past is not going to be so simple. When her drunkard abusive husband, Tierney (David Lyons) utilizes all means at a police officer's disposal to find her, no-one and nowhere; no matter how remote, is safe.
Dogged by dreadful dialogue and a lack of chemistry, Duhamel's charming warmth and trademark self-deprecating sense of humor has little opportunity to engage beyond the status of eye-candy, whilst trained dancer Hough with her limited acting credits is the weakest link seemingly unable to summon the requisite dramatic skills.
Almost as bad is the manic alcohol-swilling Lyons, who we no-more believe as villainous as gummy bears. Two redeemable and genuine appealing performances are from young Kirkland and Lomax, both terrific scene stealers with talent far beyond vibrant cuteness.
The Verdict: Personally if you're looking for an intriguing balancing act between blossoming love in the midst of suspense and anguish, I would look back 20 years when Julia Roberts slept with an enemy.
Published: The Queanbeyan Age
Date of Publication: 22/02/2013
For formulaic Girl Flick entertainment, if that's all I'm looking to entertain me, no one does it better than the South Korean TV industry. International licensing is great. Get subbed versions for free by downloading apps like Viki & DramaFever. Better yet just go online and stream them on places like KissAsian. They're more interesting than this stuff.