Film Review: Safe Haven

| 14 February , 2013 | 1 Reply

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Directed by: Lasse Hallström
Written by: Nicholas Sparks (novel), Leslie Bohem (screenplay) and Dana Stevens (screenplay)
Starring: Julianne Hough, Josh Duhamel, David Lyons, Cobie Smulders, Mimi Kirkland, Noah Lomax
Sassi’s Star Rating: 3/5

Nicholas Sparks’ fans- get excited! Just in time for Valentine’s Day, another romantic offering from the author of The Notebook, Dear John, and The Lucky One. The Sparks’ blueprint is followed to the letter here; the usual suspense and drama livening up a classic love story. There are some surprises though, including a refreshing twist in the plot when the true identity of the film’s anti-hero is revealed.


Katie Feldman (Julianne Hough: U.S Dancing with the Stars, Footloose) is ‘on the run.’ It looks as though she’s been involved in a murder, however we get the impression that if there was a crime it would have been a case of self-defence. She seeks refuge in Southport, a small and quaint North Carolina seaside town and looks to make a fresh start.

Enter Alex Wheatley (Josh Duhamel: Life as We Know It), a widower with two children, who owns the general store. The chemistry between Katie and Alex works in an ‘I’m embarrassed to be watching this but don’t turn it off it’s great’ kind of way. It’s pure escapism, and whilst somewhat predictable, it is thoroughly entertaining.


There are poignant moments as Alex’s children grapple with the loss of their mother. Letters that she put aside for them before she died mark special milestones in their lives and are especially moving. Mimi Kirkland (Lexi) and Noah Lomax (Josh) shine in their roles as brother and sister. Josh, now 11 years old has found it particularly difficult to move on. His relationship with his father is tested on a number of occasions.

Australian actor, David Lyons (from TV Series Sea Patrol), plays Kevin Tierney, the policeman chasing Katie. His American accent is convincing and he provides good insight into Kevin’s motivations. I feel that his performance delivers more than what seems to be demanded of him by the script. I think he’s meant to be a fairly two-dimensional character, but I think he’s gone deeper here. We may be seeing more of him it seems, as he looks primed to join the ranks of other popular Australian actors and actresses around the world.


Cobie Smulders plays Jo, Katie’s mysterious neighbour and eventual trusted friend. A bizarre plot twist regarding Jo occurs at the end of the film, which I found confusing and unbelievable. Once I left the cinema and digested what it meant, I was able to come to terms with it. However, I’m not sure it was a good idea for the filmmakers to move from reality to fantasy without preparing the audience first.


Safe Haven’s Lasse Hallström also directed Dear John, as well as The Cider House Rules and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape. He encourages his actors to improvise if they feel so motivated, and Duhamel and Hough report being liberated by the experience. Due to its location, the film is very visually engaging, and a fabulous soundtrack featuring We Both Know (Colbie Caillat feat. Gavin DeGraw) adds to the experience.


This is a simple film that vaguely qualifies for its ‘thriller’ tag; there is a belief that with love, anything is possible. Safe Haven, true to its title will make you feel as warm and cosy as a Nicholas Sparks’ character who has just come in to get dry from the rain. Maybe you’re in a café after a washed out canoeing excursion with Josh Duhamel or you’ve just been in a rowboat with Ryan Gosling. Either way, and watersports aside, I think you’ll enjoy this tale of hope and starting over.

A film about choosing whether to keep running or whether to stay and have faith that maybe things are starting to get better.

Safe Haven, in cinemas now!


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