Nobody can deliver a romantic love story quite like best-selling author Nicholas Sparks can. His novels and their movie counterparts have brought us some of the greatest love stories of all time. The latest of Sparks’ novel to film adaptations, Safe Haven, is no exception.
The film stars Julianne Hough as Katie, a young women who travels to the sleepy North Carolina beach town of Southport from Boston, desperate to escape demons from her past, and reluctant to make close ties with the residents. Katie soon takes up residence in Southport, and forms a friendship with her single neighbor, Jo (Cobie Smulders), who urges her to open up to the residents of the town. Events soon cause her to let down her guard, and meet Alex, a widowed, kind hearted shop owner who is played by Josh Duhamel. As Katie begins to put down roots in the town, she becomes increasingly close to Alex and his two children. As love blossoms between the two, Katie still struggles with the dark secret from her past that haunts her constantly, and is the reason she took refuge in the secluded safe haven of Southport. As her past threatens to catch up with her, and shatter the life she has started in Southport, Katie realizes that she must make a choice; a choice between living a life of safety, or to continue to run from her past. With the relationships and security Katie has found in Southport, she soon realizes that only love is the true safe haven.
The film was directed by Swedish director Lasse Hallström, and currently is receiving mixed reviews from critics. Currently, the film has received a 12% rating on rottentomatoes.com from critics, with 71% positive audience response. As the eighth film adaptation from Sparks’, it is possible the love story formula that he has perfected, is beginning to lack originality. Safe Haven has its own fair share of high points. The casting of fresh faces such as Hough and Duhamel is pleasing to contemporary audiences and their chemistry onscreen meshes together nicely. In addition, the unexpected twist at the end of the film will leave audiences talking about the film long after the credits roll.
The main issue with Safe Haven, aside from the exaggerated melodrama that comes with the typical romantic film, is most definitely the lack of originality present in the film. On the surface the film appears to be a typical Nicholas Sparks adaptation, and the film is simply just that. The setting, situations the characters are placed in, and the dramatic events are all quite reminiscent of previous Sparks fare, and could leave audiences feeling like they have already seen this kind of film–and they most likely have.
Nevertheless, audiences wishing to indulge in a bit of romance, some eye-candy, landscape shots of North Carolina and a slight air of mystery for 150 minutes will find what they are looking for in Safe Haven, and will leave the theater to go purchase the novel counterpart as well.
Safe Haven is currently showing at Cinemark Carnation Cinema 5. Show times for the week are 10:20 a.m., 1:15 p.m., 4:10 p.m., 7:10 p.m. and 10:15 p.m.