Nicholas Sparks is back and doing what he does oh so well. Better known for popular romantic flicks like The Notebook and Dear John, Sparks’ newest movie Safe Haven is just another weepy installment to add to an already long and weepy list. Unlike its predecessors, however, Safe Haven lacks any really spark, instead taking the form of a slow moving and ridiculously clichéd romantic thriller.
The plot revolves around a cagey and mysterious young woman called Katie (Julianne Hough) who has landed in a picturesque and welcoming town in Carolina after fleeing from Boston. Throughout the movie Katie is being pursued by an extremely determined policeman (David Lyons) who has seemingly made it his mission in life to track her down.
Upon arriving in Southport, Katie soon bumps into Alex (Josh Duhamel), who is a widowed father of two kids. The painfully obvious soon becomes reality and after much bumbling and charm from Duhamel the two spark up a relationship. The chemistry between Duhamel and Hough cannot be faulted and is perhaps the highlight in an otherwise dreary film.
The plot unwinds slowly and presents the audience with a series of flashbacks from Katie’s old life. The flashbacks are dark and jumpy and contrast quite nicely to the overtly happy and sunny Carolina scenes. It is not until towards the end of the movie however that the audience is given any real clarity towards what exactly Katie is running from and at times this can become quite frustrating.
The only real subplot in the film comes in the form of the friendship between Katie and Cobie Smulder’s character Jo, who plays the role of the nosy neighbour/spirit guide. Her character drifts on and off the screen at random points in the film and seems to be quite out of sync with the rest of the movie.
Despite the majority of the film being super predictable at the best of times, it would be unfair to not credit it for at least one unexpected twist. The twist is sadly completely ridiculous and will leave the audience with their jaws on the floor at the sheer misplacement and madness of it all.
Overall the movie lacks any real direction or atmosphere and anyone who does happen to give it the time of day may want to have a copy of The Notebook on standby to avoid losing all faith in Mr Sparks.
Caoimhe Ni Loinsigh