‘Safe Haven’ Movie Review – Sparks Strikes Again
At this point, saying that Nicholas Sparks movies have a formula is about as obvious as saying that romantic movies timed to come out on Valentine’s Day will do well at the box office, in spite of themselves. Safe Haven is Sparks’s 8th foray into cinema, but even the added suspense of a mystery couldn’t keep it from rising above its sibling stories.
There’s a sleepy, sea-side town. Letters are written. Someone died of cancer. You know, the things that Sparks can’t seem to move past as a writer. And as much as stars Josh Duhamel and Julianne Hough tried to bring the recycled material to life, they just lacked enough star power between them to really make it happen.
Safe Haven tells the story of Katie (Hough), who is on the run from a violent past, and finds herself in a small Southern town occupied by Alex (Duhamel) and his two precious children. Alex’s wife was the story’s obligatory cancer victim. Although Katie is jumpy and not entirely friendly, Alex quickly falls for her, and eventually she lets herself fall for him.
But, of course, her past shows up in town to haunt her, and she is torn between running away again or trusting that the roots she’s put down with Alex will be strong enough to weather the storm.
Domestic abuse is a serious issue, and while the film certainly didn’t trivialize it, the entire concept felt out of place in an otherwise innocuous love story. Hough did her best to handle the emotional highs and lows, but another, more experienced actress might have been able to truly make us believe in her character as an abuse victim.
There is a twist at the end, but I have to believe only someone who is genuinely swept away by the love story won’t be able to see it coming a mile away. Certainly, many women will leave the theater weeping, because if there’s one thing Sparks knows how to do, it’s manipulate emotions. He’s made his entire career off this ability, and this latest work proves he has no intention of changing his tune.
Safe Haven arrives in theaters nationwide on Thursday, February 14th