It being Valentine’s Day weekend Hollywood, naturally, offers a romantic Nicholas Sparks film “Safe Haven” based on one of his many books.. In most films logic has to be left at the door but with this one also leave your brains there.
The opening scene shows Katie (Julianne Hough) running from what could be a murder scene. In the fastest time ever in a film she cuts and dyes her hair, gets on a bus going to Atlanta, even though the police are looking for her, gets off in a small town and within minutes gets a job, rents a cabin, meets a guy Alex (Josh Duhamel) who lost his wife 2 years previously to cancer and is bringing up their two kids Lexi (Mimi Kirkland) who was too young to really remember her and Josh (Noah Lomax) who misses her and, by the way, Alex gives Katie a bike in the middle of the night since she doesn’t have any transportation, though she really doesn’t need it--remember this is a small town--and meets Jo, her neighbor who lives down the way. Whew! We haven’t even gotten into the main thrust of the story.
There isn’t a cliche that the director, Lasse Hallstrom, or the screenwriters, Dana Stevens and Gage Lansky, don’t love and feel they have to put up on the screen. We haven’t even mentioned fireworks filling the sky, children in jeopardy, homes on fire, a policeman who misuses his power, canoe rides, lovers getting caught in the rain not to forget the very unbelievable ending though the lovers and kids will live happily ever after as this is a Hollywood/ Nicholas Sparks movie. There is a thriller aspect added to the love story but adds nothing to the film.
Josh Duhamel goes through the 5 o’clock shadow stage here and there while Julianne Hough looks better as a blonde than a brunette but with either color there is very little chemistry between the leads. Mimi Kirkland and Noah Lomax do a good job while most of the supporting cast blend into the wood.
While you can’t say Hallstrom does a bad job there are one too many poorly edited scenes and as a director he really doesn’t bring anything special to the film.
The star of the movie is really the small town of Southport, North Carolina, which is movie perfect.
Though “Safe Haven” is being touted as a romantic film the best romantic film available on the big screen today is “Amour” that shows what love really is all about.