¨There´s no safer place for you than here with me.¨
Chicks will definitely love this film, but I found it to be yet another recycled Nicholas Sparks adaptation. Sparks may have a fan base through his novels and movie adaptations, but if he continues to write the same movie over and over again he will eventually lose them all. I was a fan of The Notebook because the relationship felt authentic and Sparks writing was new to me, I really liked it, but Safe Haven is completely flawed. Not only is it full of romantic clichés (we get to see another canoeing scene in a lake interrupted by rain like in The Notebook), but it has some of the worst plot twists I´ve seen in film history. I guess it was an attempt from Sparks to make this film different from the rest, but the suspense and thrills never worked. It felt like The Stepfather with the melodrama from any chick flick you´ve seen. It´s too bad Safe Haven didn’t work because I like Swedish director, Lasse Hallstrom, who has made Chocolat, What´s Eating Gilbert Grape, The Cider House Rules, and Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. This is one film that he would probably want to erase from his resume. The writers in charge of adapting Sparks´ novel were Dana Stevens (City of Angels and For Love of the Game) and Gage Lansky. The script was weak, predictable, and extremely mushy. The film also suffers from a weak lead performance from Julianne Hough who was much better in the musicals she starred in: Burlesque and Rock of Ages. Her performance never felt believable and that hurt the chemistry with her co-star Josh Duhamel, who has also made a living off rom-coms like When in Rome, or Life as We Know It. Those mediocre movies look like masterpieces when compared to Safe Haven. Duhamel is a likeable actor, but Hough´s performance made it difficult to tolerate this film.
The movie begins with a young scared girl named Katie (Julianne Hough) making a frenetic escape from her hometown in Boston to a small North Carolina town known as Southport. She´s running from something, but we are never shown exactly what happened. All we know is that something happened in her home involving a knife and a man, and now she has cut her hair and died it blonde and has escaped to this isolated place. Police officer, Tierney (David Lyons), tries to hunt her down but gets to the bus station a few seconds late. Katie decides that Southport is the perfect place to start over and finds a nice little cabin in the woods and a job at a local coffee shop. Katie tries to keep to herself, but she forms a nice bond with a little girl named Lexie (Mimi Kirkland) who is the daughter of widowed Alex (Josh Duhamel). Alex soon falls for Katie´s good looks and they grow closer together. However Katie never mentions anything about her past. Katie also befriends her neighbor, Jo (Cobie Smulders), who seems to always be there for her for good advice. As Katie begins to fall for Alex more and more, she is still haunted by her past and isn’t sure what her next move should be. Thus the melodrama begins.
Safe Haven had some beautiful shots of romantic locations, but it was full of clichés and bad dialogues. At times while the music was playing the film even felt like one long music video or commercial. Safe Haven also suffers from an extensively long plot. At almost two hours I kept waiting for the end to approach, and it never did. One plot twist after another the film continued to grow increasingly tiring and tedious. By the end if you thought the film was entertaining you will be left with a bad taste in your mouth because the final twist is just ridiculous. Yes the film is romantic and sweet and girls will love this movie, but I don’t think the male audience will be won over by the suspense and thrills. It didn’t work for me, there was just no depth to the characters or the story.