I love Nicholas Sparks’ novels, but the movie adaptations aren’t always as good as the books. One of my favorite movies in general is The Notebook, even though they majorly changed the book’s ending for the movie, but the recent Dear John was not so great. However, I was pleasantly surprised by Safe Haven, which catches your attention from the very beginning of the movie and then will hold it for its entire almost-two hour runtime.
In the beginning of the film, we see teary-eyed Katie (Julianne Hough) at the bus station, running away from an abusive home situation. She takes a bus to Atlanta and then a connecting bus to get her to North Carolina, where her goal is to keep to herself. She gets a job at the local restaurant, and ends up meeting Alex (Josh Duhamel), a widower with two children who runs the general store. One night, he stops by her house in the woods and leaves a bicycle for her; she’s at first offended, since he dropped it off in the middle of the night and thus violated her privacy, in her opinion, but soon she realizes that it was a nice thing for him to do. They strike up a relationship, but when he finds out her secret, she has to tell him about the person she left behind in Boston, and why she’s hiding from him now.
I did read Safe Haven but it was a while ago; however, I do remember that it’s a little more violent than typical Nicholas Sparks books. Safe Haven grabs our attention by showing this at the beginning of the film, or at least the situation that Hough’s character is in, and then revealing a little more throughout in the form of flashbacks. The acting in this film is good, too, and Julianne Hough and Josh Duhamel (who is now 40, but definitely doesn’t look it!) have undeniable chemistry together.
Yes, see this movie. When I left the theater, I overheard one woman scornfully say that “only fans of Julianne and Josh Duhamel and teenage girls will like this movie,” but I disagree. I am a fan of both actors, yes, but am not a teenage girl, and I liked this movie a lot; it’s better than a handful of movies I could name that I’ve seen recently, and it was engaging and didn’t have any slow spots in it. I will say that fans of “chick flicks” may enjoy it more than others, but anyone could enjoy this film, and it’s a good choice to see at the theater in a season that’s usually filled with only mediocre movies.
Safe Haven is currently in theaters, and is rated PG-13 with a runtime of 115 minutes.
Rating: 4 stars out of 5.