Movie Review: “Safe Haven” – Perfect Hell

Written by Emily McWilliams February 24, 2013

In the latest Hollywood cash-cow adaptation from Nicholas Sparks comes “Safe Haven”, quite possibly one of the weirdest “romantic” movies I have ever encountered.  Going into the movie, I had not read the book version or done any research – I was expecting another generic romance movie trying to up the cheese-factor in an attempt to give the “Twilight” movies a run for their money.  Instead I encountered what I think a romantic movie written and interpreted by M. Night Shyamalan would resemble.  “Safe Haven” tries to be different from other Sparks adaptations.  Sure, it still has the same plot structure and conflicts, and two good-looking Caucasian actors playing the leads, but it really, really tries to be different.  How does it do this you ask?  With a twist ending so ridiculous I actually laughed out loud during what was supposed to be a touching, emotional scene.   Well, without further ado, lets dive into this Valentine’s Day hangover and wade through this bucket of cinematic goop.

Another story of boy meets girl…

Katie (Julianne Hough) is our lead female romantic interest, but has a mysterious past that is indicated to viewers through dark, and jolting flashbacks that just add to the overall schizophrenic tone of the movie.  She’s on the run from something or someone and finds herself in Southport, North Carolina where she settles down to start a new life.  There, she meets Alex (Josh Duhamel), a local who owns the town’s general store.  Alex is a widower with two kids and takes an instant liking to Katie (obviously) who doesn’t want anything to do with him (of course).  Katie’s neighbour, Jo (Colbie Smaulders), urges Katie to give in to Alex’s advances and let her guard down.  Katie and Alex begin to fall in love, but Katie’s violent past and Alex’s grief over his dead wife threatens to separate them.

They pose like this 90% of the time.

They pose like this 90% of the time.

Or is it?

So the plot sounds typical and routine as far as these movies go, and it is.  Characters banter about the weather, rice, and paint samples during scenes of dialogue that make this hour and forty minute movie seem tediously long.  Then during the second act, the plot and tone of the film just completely change in the most melodramatic and unbelievable way.  If there’s one thing to praise about this movie, at least it wasn’t predictable.  It’s not really romantic either.  It just evolves into Hollywood’s conceptions of violence and action in a way that makes this movie seem more like an episode of “MacGyver” than a complimentary film to “The Notebook.”  It was actually a nice change of pace compared to the first act, which crawled while barley establishing any chemistry between Katie and Alex.  This movie has a lot of problems, and it’s so poorly executed that unintended hilarity ensues during the climax and following scenes.

See what I mean?

See what I mean?


If you like movies, do yourself a favour and don’t watch this

Really, there isn’t much more to say about “Safe Haven”.  The dialogue was mundane, the acting teetering between vacant and over-reactive throughout the course of the crazy narrative, and it continues to show Hollywood’s fascination with establishing the nuclear family on-screen – a trend I’m hoping will phase out soon.  I know there is a market and a fan-base for these movies, and I think they will be the only ones who truly like “Safe Haven”.  Everyone else better steer clear of this one, unless you want to enter the seventh circle of cinematic hell.

My Rating: 3/10


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