Sunday 26 May 2024

Movie Review: Safe Haven (2013)

Genre: Romantic Drama  
Director: Lasse Hallström  
Starring: Julianne Hough, Josh Duhamel, David Lyons, Cobie Smulders  
Running Time: 115 minutes  

Synopsis: Katie (Julianne Hough) escapes an abusive relationship and attempts to start a new life in the idyllic small community of Southport, North Carolina. She rents a secluded house, befriends her neighbour Jo (Cobie Smulders), and starts a romance with single dad Alex (Josh Duhamel), who lost his wife to cancer. Meanwhile, a Boston police detective (David Lyons) is obsessively hunting Katie down.

What Works Well: This adaptation of a Nicholas Sparks novel carries the requisite dreamy looks and feel good vibes, combining aesthetic gloss with a romance tinged by life's challenges. Julianne Hough and Josh Duhamel will not win many acting awards but make for an attractive couple, and do enough to register the scars of troubled pasts. The seaside village is a snug location for love to blossom, and a final gentle plot twist adds wistful elegance.

What Does Not Work As Well: Katie's backstory is kept secret for too long, leaving the antagonist to flounder in an altogether separate movie. Meanwhile the romance between Katie and Alex unfolds at a glacial pace, Hallström determined to milk the small town milieu for all its worth. The cliches include the canoe excursion disrupted by a downpour and the ever-so-charming 4th of July festivities. As a result of all the padding, the running time is a good 25 minutes longer than necessary. 

Conclusion: Passable postcard romance with some dark edges.

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