Life changes in an instant for young Mia Hall after a car accident puts her in a coma. During an out-of-body experience, she must decide whether to wake up and live a life far different than she had imagined. The choice is hers if she can go on.
Rosie and Alex have been best friends since they were 5, so they couldn't possibly be right for one another...or could they? When it comes to love, life and making the right choices, these two are their own worst enemies.
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
My Baby's Got to Pay the Rent
Written by Ryan T. Boldt (as Ryan Boldt)
Performed by The Deep Dark Woods
The Deep Dark Woods appears courtesy of Sugar Hill Records, a Welk Music Group Company See more »
A good romantic comedy is something I enjoy talking about, and my single relationship status has never been a merit for not liking a particular film of the genre. Just thought I'd make that clear, so I didn't have to sift through responses saying at how I'm romantically ignorant to films like Safe Haven because I've never experienced a true romance myself.
Let me tell you, if real-life romances are anything like the schmaltzy, picturesque, contrived trite presented with us in the latest Nicholas Sparks film adaptation, I'd rather be eternally bound to my pet cat. Marking the eight Sparks film adaptation, Safe Haven isn't impossibly unromantic like The Vow (not a Sparks-coined film, but last year's Valentine's Day cash-grab), yet it stems from the same touchy, over-sentimentalized roots many of these pictures do, offering nothing more than a cheap escapist fantasy.
The backdrop for this story is Southport, North Carolina, a coastal area which is populated with happy, good-looking, witty white people that look like they were cut out of GQ/Maxim magazine covers. Southport is the place where our protagonist Katie Feldman (Julianne Hough) believes she can find solace in, after catching a bus and a plane, running away from an unknown problem in the beginning of the film.
Upon touching down, she tries out the area a bit before buying a rundown shack in the middle of absolute nowhere, and when she goes to buy paint for her floors, she meets Alex (Josh Duhamel) and his two sweetheart children, Josh and Lexi. Alex is instantly attracted to Katie and it's not hard to find out why. She's petite, built nicely, her blonde hair flows so majestically when the coast winds pick up that she is the dreamgirl of almost anyone. But Katie isn't totally ready for a relationship, as she is trying to forget her past of course. She drums up a relationship with Jo (Cobie Smulders), a local southerner who attempts to teach her the noble ways of the land she has just set foot on.
As anyone can tell, Alex and Katie begin hanging out more, inevitably become more attracted to one another, and all in good time for that pesky problem burdening Katie's past to come back and bite her.
There's an irritating emptiness to Safe Haven, which is beginning to drive me nuts in new romantic films (romantic comedies are a somewhat different story). Many modern films of the genre feature the same little details; a very attractive couple, incredulous situations, postcard worthy landscapes, little development between characters, uninteresting side-characters, and irrelevant small-talk between characters that are enough to drive those still living in reality up the wall. The Nicholas Sparks film exist in an augmented reality, where coincidences are more than prevalent to several situations and there is a romance that is seemingly eternal. I do not discourage Sparks films, but I believe that they rely too much on fantasy and not enough on reality. A little fantasy is fine, but when they're consistently plagued by incredulity and far-fetched setups, they become redundant, and worse, the films become interchangeable (before you disagree, look up the posters for The Last Song, The Lucky One, The Notebook, Nights in Rodanthe, Safe Haven, and A Walk to Remember and then tell me the small little notable differences that differentiate those films apart). Sparks has successfully found out how to profit greatly from the romantic genre, and his name has become etched into the minds of young girls and older ones, who will pay for anything he makes and remark on how beautiful and incredible it all was.
Take The Notebook for example. Cute story, decent characters, some great acting by Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams, but nothing more than, again, an escapist fantasy. The alleged twist ending and emotional finale was something I discovered long before the film was over and that sort of soiled the experience that I was expecting to have a very strong, poignant resonance with. If that's the best story Sparks ever told, than I'm less optimistic about what future Valentine's Day weekends will bring to me.
Safe Haven features decent performances from its lead actors, but this is a soap-opera at best. It adheres to formula and predictability more-so than characters and plot progression, and the twist ending it tacks on at the end is laughably unbelievable in multiple regards. I return full circle to inform my readers that I am not lonely, depressed, socially-troubled, or took any personal feelings about being single to this film. I'm just sick of by-the-numbers romances.
Starring: Julianne Hough, Josh Duhamel, Cobie Smulders, and David Lyons. Directed by: Lasse Hallström.
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