I want to thank our guest reviewer Ursula for her review for Safe Haven. Be sure to check back to see what MattInRC thought of the film.
Safe Haven is a suspenseful story about Katie, (Julianne Hough) running from the law to find peace, quiet and safety. She comes upon the beautiful seaside port in Southport, North Carolina. On a whim, she steps off the bus, breathes in the sea air, and decides to stay. She is jumpy, keeps to herself and is looking to settle in quietly without any commotion. While constantly on the defense, she manages to get a job at the local Crab Shack and rent a cozy little shabby chic (more shabby than chic) house off the grid and deep into the woods of the little town. The local shop owner Alex, (Josh Duhamel) is a widower with two adorable children. He helps his uncle run the town grocery. Alex notices Katie immediately and forgets his mourning. Fortunately for him his daughter has his interests in mind and lures Katie with her childlike charm, by chatting with her and drawing her paintings. The setting of the cozy little town by the sea, and the sad widower create a setting that allows Katie to eventually put down her guard and fall in love.
Katie makes friends with her neighbor Jo, Cobie Smulders. Katie comes upon Jo snooping in her home and befriends her immediately. Jo helps her navigate the newness of being in a small town and encourages her to let down her guard enough to allow Alex in. They keep each other company and have lots of girlfriend time together. Jo puts her at ease on many occasions. Cobie Smulders does a fantastic job in this movie and adds an element of comfort and familiarity.
The officer hunting her down, Tierney, played by David Lyons, is extremely haunted and desperately trying to find Katie. He is relentless and harassing. He engages a good part of the suspense in the film. His character creates fear and high drama. He definitely adds the dramatic effect that sets the film over the edge of just being a typical romantic flick. David Lyons makes for a frightening menacing cop!
Julianne Hough is still very new to acting, she is well known for her many seasons of Dancing with the Stars, and her singing hits on the Country Billboard. While she is very talented as a performer, she does come across still new to acting in this film. She was also in Footloose and Rock of Ages (both heavily preformed stage roles). She does fairly well here, particularly because it is not too complicated of a plot. She plays the nervous girl on the run, well enough. The passion she displays toward Josh Duhamel’s character, Alex, is believable. It is the in between parts, like towards Jo and her boss at the Crab Shack,(Robin Mullins) that seem a little bit stiff.
Josh Duhamel on the other hand, while more of a veteran, has not played as many leading roles. He does a great job in this film, is warm and believable. He does well playing the role of grieving father and nervous romantic. However, the boy that plays his son Josh, Noah Lomax, does not seem quite as believable (the dramatic effect is a little forced). While that is not Duhamel’s fault, it does cause a little bit of awkwardness. The girl that plays his daughter Lexi, Mimi Kirkland, is very talented. She brings realness and warmth to the film. Her body language and personality light up the screen. I can foresee many more films in her future.
Safe Haven was much like The Notebook, with a slowly moving love story and uses several layers of unexpected plot to give it some depth. The suspense piece is distracting enough to throw you off from the twists on the horizon. I found the movie to be enjoyable and a little bit different from the typical love story because of the mystery, and thriller aspects that were mixed in. The movie is based on the novels written by Nicolas Sparks, who also wrote “The Notebook” (women love this movie).
Overall the film makes for a pleasurable Valentine’s Day movie to take your sweetheart to. Be prepared for some jumpy scenes, and you may want to bring a Kleenex box with you…..
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