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article imageReview: ‘Safe Haven’ is the safe choice this Valentine's Day Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Feb 14, 2013 in Entertainment
‘Safe Haven’ follows a young woman's journey as she escapes a dangerous past to start anew with a man who deserves a happy ending as much as she does.
Just in time for Valentine's Day, author Nicholas Sparks' latest romantic tale is hitting theatres. The right balance of love, drama and adversity, Safe Haven mixes in a little mystery to keep the narrative interesting - though audiences could probably have done without the supernatural element.
Katie (Julianne Hough) is running away from a violent mistake. As the police try to track her down, she sneaks out of the city and lands in a small, picturesque town. The scenery wasn't the only thing that caught Katie's attention. Alex (Josh Duhamel) is a single father and owner of the general store. As Katie begins to settle in and let her guard down, she also lets Alex into her heart. But her past is catching up and her secret threatens to destroy everything she's grown to love.
If you've seen more than one of the adaptations of Sparks' novels, then you may have noticed some similarities in the stories' structure. There's always an obstacle hindering the romance between the main characters. The characters themselves are initially reluctant because of various personal or emotional issues. The couple will separate, though lengths of these separations vary. And there's often a romantic day in the rain.
The narrative is not overly or overtly contrived, though the added layer to their love story lays it on a little too thick. Katie's story has been seen before. But she doesn't view Alex as her savior or hero; she's not a helpless victim that needs saving. Katie proves to be a strong, resourceful young woman.
There are actually three stories unfolding in parallel: Katie's fresh start; the police search for her location; and Alex's family's struggle to hold onto the memory of his late wife. Of course Katie's and Alex's paths eventually merge into one, but the investigation tries to keep audiences on their toes for a portion of the film. Viewers may think they understand what Katie is afraid of going into the picture, but the filmmakers immediately plant a seed of doubt in their minds.
The chemistry between Hough and Duhamel doesn't equal fireworks, but they fit together well enough. The sparks are pre-built into the script; they just need to make them seem believable. Hough’s hesitant but obvious longing, and Duhamel's trustworthy smile and goofy come-ons do just that.
Director: Lasse Hallström
Starring: Julianne Hough, Josh Duhamel and David Lyons
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