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Haven Hollow - A review of Safe Haven

Updated on February 17, 2013
Julianne Hough and Josh Duhamel take a cone ride in the romantic movie Safe Haven from novelist Nicholas Sparks
Julianne Hough and Josh Duhamel take a cone ride in the romantic movie Safe Haven from novelist Nicholas Sparks
4 stars for Safe Haven

Summary: Definitely nothing overly unique or unexpected from Nicholas Sparks, but the twist ending was done better by The Sixth Sense over a decade ago.

Josh Duhamel and Julianne Hough are both very attractive young actors, so it’s no surprise that they can generate the type of chemistry necessary to pull off this movie.

Hough plays Katie, a woman with a troubled past who hops a bus for parts unfamiliar. When she arrives at a small beachside community in Georgia, she decides to settle down for a bit and see if she can forget the past for a while.

When she meets shopkeeper Alex (Duhamel), her emotions get the better of her and she starts a relationship with him and his two kids. She also meets a reclusive woman named Jo (Cobie Smulders) who also befriends her. This could be the escape from her past that she has been looking for.

In typical Nicholas Sparks fashion, we know that she can’t run from her past and eventually, it does throw her new life in a tailspin. But also there are changes in store for all of the characters in the wake of tragedy.

When you have two gifted actors like Duhamel and Hough, the story easily falls into place in believable fashion. Alex still holds a candle for his deceased wife but he’s ready to move on and try again with Katie.

Likewise, Katie still has feelings for the man she loved in Boston, but things grew hairy and she needed to escape from that relationship. Sparks is a masterful romance novelist and the story rivets you even through the melodramaticism.

Where the film falters is in it’s ending. We know that Sparks will give us a resoundingly dramatic showdown that will bring the characters together and here he doesn’t disappoint, but the contrived final scenes that expose a Sixth Sense style revelation feel contrived at best and exploitive at their worst. It almost feels like a cheat on Sparks’ part and that he’s toying with our emotions.

But then again, toying with emotions is what romance novelists do best. It was apropos to release this movie on Valentine’s Day. It’s a decent story that plays well with the couples crowd.

I may be one of the only men that I know who actually looks forward to a Sparks movie. His stories are compelling and he doesn’t insult the audience or dumb down the character predicaments. The tales entertain without insulting our intelligence.

Even though this is not his best work, I still highly recommend Safe Haven and give it 3-1/2 out of 5 stars.

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