When a mysterious young woman named Katie appears in the small North Carolina town of Southport, her sudden arrival raises questions about her past. Beautiful yet self-effacing, Katie seems determined to avoid forming personal ties until a series of events draws her into two reluctant relationships: one with Alex, a widowed store owner with a kind heart and two young children; and another with her plainspoken single neighbor, Jo. Despite her reservations, Katie slowly begins to let down her guard, putting down roots in the close-knit community and becoming increasingly attached to Alex and his family. But even as Katie begins to fall in love, she struggles with the dark secret that still haunts and terrifies her . . . a past that set her on a fearful, shattering journey across the country, to the sheltered oasis of Southport. With Jo's empathic and stubborn support, Katie eventually realizes that she must choose between a life of transient safety and one of riskier rewards . . . and ... Written by
Nicholas Sparks at his best ... er, uh, I mean same.
If someone were to tell me that the latest Nicholas Sparks novel-to-a-movie adaptation would be one that starred two ridiculously attractive actors playing characters who almost fall in love when a secret from the past that can keep them apart is revealed nearly thirty minutes before the movie ends ... I would say "No $--t! Have you not been paying attention!?" Anybody who does not reside in a cave would know this.
Safe Haven is yet the latest of Sparks' novels to follow this same "winning" (they continue to be profitable!) formula/pattern and it rather saddens me this is director Lasse Hallstrom's SECOND Sparks film as the (thrice) Oscar-nominated director has made GREAT films in the past such as The Cider House Rules, Chocolat, What's Eating Gilbert Grape and Salmon Fishing on the Yemen (I've also just realized his greatest films have an edible word in the title).
Safe Haven stars Julianne Hough (Rock of Ages) as Katie, a beautiful young woman on the run from her past. Safe Haven also stars Josh Duhamel (New Year's Eve) as Alex, a handsome widower and saintly father raising two young children in a small, coastal North Carolina town.
The two meet soon after her arrival in town and begin a friendship (rather reluctantly on her part) after she meets him at the small convenience store he runs -- his cute daughter runs the cash register! -- as he helps her with an odd assortment of items and he answers some even stranger movie-scripted questions. He even gets her a bicycle with a basket on the front (which she takes as an affront) and he orders her yellow paint. Wh-what? Exactly.
Their entire relationship is contrived in a connect-the-dots Nicholas Sparks pattern and the film's supporting players each have a single purpose for the movie -- her jerk of an ex looking for her (David Lyons
Eat Pray Love), his cop pal who can discover her secret in an instant
(Ric Reitz - Flight), his children to either look cute or get into trouble, and her country neighbor giving her relationship advice on Alex (Cobie Smulders - The Avengers).
Hallstrom has made this better than most sappy melodramatic romances (and Hough and Duhamel are both likable-enough stars) but Sparks' over-the-top climatic children-in-peril moments have become eye-rolling. The film is standard Nicholas Sparks malarkey and anybody who has watched the movies based on his work knows they have much in common. This can be good or bad depending upon the person.
Beautiful actors? Check. Beautiful scenery? Check. Romance? Check. Melodrama? Check. More melodrama? Check. A scene in or near the water? Check. A young one in trouble? Check. Good story? ... uh, Bueller?
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