Nicholas Sparks’ novels are not often known for their big twists and turns, but one exception is his Safe Haven book, a title that has recently been turned into a movie about troubled relationships and starting anew. The film stars Rock of Ages actress Julianne Hough as Katie, a young woman who moves to the seaside town of Southport, North Carolina. When we first meet Katie, we know she’s running from something and most notably, someone.
While the revelations of Katie’s escape unfold slowly, they never unfold spectacularly, leaving us with a bad subplot concerning a former relationship. The important thing is that Katie makes it to Southport, where she meets a friend, Jo (Cobie Smoulders), and a potential lover, Alex (Josh Duhamel). Both Katie and especially Alex exhibit a sort of “aww shucks” charm in the film that works for their romance. While some of the other side plotlines make the movie a little more of a thriller than a romance, none are quite as satisfying as the young romance in the film.
Director Lasse Hallström is obsessed with realistic moments in Safe Haven. For every shot of Alex and Katie creating romantic moments on boats, there are shots of Alex sweating as he lugs around objects for neighbors and cracks bad jokes about basmati rice. These moments are most apparent with Alex’s kids in the film, who never come across as charismatic and calculated little actors and instead come across as two young people you might run in to in real life.
Safe Haven isn’t a perfect movie or a great one, but it offers enough reasons and moments for fans of romantic films to invest in.
You can order Safe Haven on Amazon.
Best Special Feature: The “Igniting the Romance in Safe Haven” segment is a “Making of “ segment describing the relationship of the two main characters, which is one of the highlights of the film. There was apparently a lot of improvisation used in the film, with one notable scene where Katie discusses what it feels like to be abused. This extra is the lengthiest and the most rewarding, although there are a few others, including the deleted & extended scenes, that are worthwhile.
Other Special Features:
“Josh Duhamel’s Lessons in Crabbing”
Deleted & Extended Scenes