Film review: Safe Haven

Safe Haven

(M) **

Director: Lasse Hallstrom.

Cast: Julianne Hough, Josh Duhamel, Cobie Smulders, David Lyons.

IF you've seen any of the previous adaptations of Nicholas Sparks's novels, you'll know what to expect with Safe Haven.

This romance follows a similar path to Nights In Rodanthe and The Lucky One, where two attractive and seemingly perfect people must help each other learn to love again, teaching each other to overcome their pasts and their insecurities.

It's all so predictable and all so "Nicholas Sparks", but the one thing you won't expect (unless you've read the book probably) is the plot twist that comes in the last couple of minutes of Safe Haven.

The reason you won't expect it is because it's a screenwriting maneuvre that is so incredibly baffling and profoundly stupid that it will make you want to punch the movie in the face.

Prior to the twist, Safe Haven bubbles along nicely enough for a slightly numbing two hours, but it was at least hard to totally hate the film.

Sure, Safe Haven is corny, painfully obvious and you could set your watch by its romantic developments, but it has a certain charm to it at least and features a surprisingly solid turn from Duhamel.

He plays Alex, the single father of two who runs a quaint little store in a quaint little seaport town with the quaint little name of Southport.

This is where Katie (Hough) ends up, on the run from a dark past and looking for a new beginning.

Naturally the two cross paths and help each other learn to love again, teaching each other to overcome their pasts and their insecurities. And, as you'd expect in a Nicholas Sparks movie, there is trouble on the horizon.

Safe Haven feels typical and unremarkable, like it's destined for midday movie status. But it's also largely inoffensive and Duhamel has enough charisma to even make up for a certain lifelessness in Hough's performance.

Then comes this ridiculous twist, which makes you want to hate the film. The twist is preposterous and actually manages to undo a lot of the goodwill the movie had achieved prior to its last three minutes.

While the other plot holes, bad lines, and predictable developments are predominately excusable amid the niceness, the ending changes everything. It makes you view the entire film - particularly a main character - differently... and not in a good way.

It feels wrong to give an otherwise okay film one star just because of its final three minutes, so Safe Haven begrudgingly gets two stars. If you walk out before the last three minutes, it's a solid two stars.

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