Safe Haven: Review

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This movie was panned by critics and I just don’t know why. I totally loved Safe Haven and it is now my second favourite Nicholas Sparks adaptation after The Notebook. It is definitely better than Dear John and The Last Song and it was different to the usual Sparks formula.

The film begins with Erin (Julianne Hough) running away from her house in a panic and covered in blood. She skips town and a police officer is determined to find her as she is a suspect for first degree murder. She ends up in Southport, North Carolina were she settles down, calls herself Katie and gets a waitressing job. She makes friends with her neighbour Jo (Cobie Smoulders) and starts to get a bit friendly with the local shopkeeper, Alex (Josh Duhamel). The police finally track her down, but can their romance weather the truth?!

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Sparks novel adaptations are generally expected to be schmaltzy, romantic and clichéd. I understand that, and this can be in places. I just think they’ve got a bad rep and critics just rip them apart because that is what is expected. This was far better than I imagined and different to the usual genre. It was romantic but there was a thriller element to it with the police chase and “the crime” at the beginning which we find out about towards the end. There is a brilliant villain character in this film but I won’t say who because it spoils the surprise. He is truly terrifying and you will worry about someone getting hurt. The action near the end makes the film miles better than other Sparks movies as it was action-packed, intense and thrilling. Since I  haven’t read the book, I was shocked by the big reveal.

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I didn’t have much faith in the acting of Julianne because she was only in dancing movies before and this is her first leading, proper acting role and I thought she did a brilliant job. She looks great too- I love her hair. Josh is usually an action guy so it was nice to see him do something romantic. I thought the chemistry between the two leads was hot. I didn’t really think the casting of Cobie was quite right but I think that’s because I’m so used to her being Robin in How I Met Your Mother. However, the star of the movie was Alex’s daughter, Lexie, who was the cute and so articulate!

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I had two issues with this: first, there is scene in which they go out in a boat and it rains. This felt like a total copy of The Notebook- I compared it with that for the entire scene. Secondly, the second twist at the very end was a bit random and left me feeling a bit bewildered. I thought the ending was going to be perfect and happy and then they dropped that bombshell that undermined everything that had happened before. Had the cut that bit out, I would have loved the movie 100%.

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Yes, it is romantic and a little schmaltzy, but it is a Sparks movie after all. It is so much more than that though- it has action, thrills and twists. I highly recommend.

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