Well here we are with yet another Nicholas Sparks movie. I read Safe Haven awhile back and was surprised at how much I enjoyed it since I've been so disappointed with his books as of late. Same goes for the movies. Honestly, they haven’t made a good movie of one of his books since The Notebook in my opinion. So how was Safe Haven? Well, it’s not as good as The Notebook but much better than the more recent ones.
First of all, when the movie begins, it doesn't feel like a Nicholas Sparks movie at all. It starts out more like a thriller. You see a young woman named Katie (Julianne Hough) fleeing her home with no shoes on and covered in blood. Obviously something bad has just happened. She goes to her kind, elderly neighbor’s house for help. The movie then shifts to Katie with her hair dyed and cut shorter quickly catching a bus with police detective Kevin Tierney (David Lyons) following her. As the movie goes on (unless you read the book and already know) you learn Kevin’s connection to Katie and why he’s so determined to capture her. Anyway, Katie winds up in a small town in North Carolina where she finds a job as a waitress and tries to keep a low profile. Of course, things get complicated when she meets Alex (Josh Duhamel), a widowed store owner with two young children. I don’t think I really need to say much more since if you've seen one Nicholas Sparks movie, you've pretty much seen them all. Set in a small town in North Carolina or some southern equivalent? Check. Beautiful shots of the ocean and the beach? Check. Attractive couple falling in love? Check. Something tragic happens? Big check.
The director of Safe Haven is Lasse Hallstrom. He’s previous films include Chocolat, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, and another Nicholas Sparks adaptation- Dear John. Overall I think he did a pretty good job telling what boils down to your basic sappy romance movie. The cinematography was gorgeous. He did make a lot of changes from the book, but the general story is pretty much the same. Some people may not like the changes, but I was okay with it. Any time you turn a book into a movie there’s going to be changes. What I didn't like was his use of shaky cam at the beginning. It wasn't vomit inducing or anything; I’m just not a big fan of it. The editing could have been a little tighter. And I wish he had spent a little more time with the thriller aspects of it, but of course the main focus is the love story.
The acting was pretty average. I mean, Josh Duhamel was good he just didn't have a lot to work with. Julianne Hough did surprisingly well. I mean, I still think she should stick to dancing, but she was much better than I thought she would be. The little girl who played Alex’s daughter Lexie (Mimi Kirkland) was absolutely adorable. She was quite the scene stealer. David Lyons did okay (I liked him better when he was on ER) but he was your stereotypical villain.
As with these kinds of movies, probably the only people who will like Safe Haven are women and/or you’re a Nicholas Sparks fan. It’s a sweet (sometimes too much so) little romance movie that’s fun to watch this time of year.
My Rating: 7/10