Don't let your mind ask questions when you're watching "Safe Haven." You'll enjoy the movie better if you don't.
But most people heading to a Nicholas Sparks movie adaptation are not looking to ask questions. They're looking for something to fill that little spot in their hearts that needs some mushy romance every once in a while. And "Safe Haven" delivers that.
The film, directed by Lasse Hallström ("Salmon Fishing in the Yemen," "Chocolat"), also offers viewers a tinge of mystery.
Julianne Hough, Josh Duhamel,
Cinemark Tulsa, AMC Southroads
20, Cinemark Broken Arrow,
RiverWalk, Owasso, Eton Square,
1 hour, 55 minutes
PG-13 (for thematic material
involving threatening behavior, and for
violence and sexuality)
(on a scale of zero to four
It starts out with a young woman (Julianne Hough) running through the streets at night, visibly shaken and trying to get away from someone. With just a few personal belongings, she boards a bus and barely escapes a policeman who is looking for her.
When the bus makes a stop in a small town in North Carolina, Hough's character, who introduces herself to people as Katie, decides to make this her new home.
We watch as Katie finds a job as a waitress (too easily, at the first place she asks), settles down in a small cottage in the middle of the woods (with what money, we're not sure) and slowly begins to get to know the people around her.
One of the first people she meets is Alex (Josh Duhamel), a widower with two children whose wife died of cancer. Alex is immediately interested, but Katie at first tries to keep him at bay.
As their relationship begins to blossom, Katie continues to be plagued by nightmares from her past - short flashbacks that give us glimpses into what she is running from. We also see the policeman who was chasing her early in the film working hard to track her down. Hough ("Footloose") and Duhamel ("Transformers") give decent performances, but the story only offers a surface-level romance, so they don't have much character depth to work with. There is pain and loss in both their lives - Alex has to deal with children who miss their mother and Katie is trying to push her past away and learn to trust people again - but don't expect a strong love story like the one we saw in "The Notebook."
There is enough romance in the film to keep the sappy-film lovers appeased and enough mystery for those who require some suspense to be happy. For all the rest, you'll have to make do with the absolutely gorgeous North Carolina setting. Lush trees fill the screen, the water is serene, and sunlight streams beautifully into every corner of this cute little town.
So if the Valentine's Day season makes you want to watch a cute couple fall in love, by all means watch "Safe Haven." But again, don't expect much depth, and ignore the ridiculous "twist" ending that is a bit more fairy-tale inspired than most audiences will be willing to accept.
Original Print Headline: 'Safe Haven' is mushy love story for Valentines
Nour Habib 918-581-8369