Safe Haven is another Nicholas Sparks romance novel turned motion picture. There is no denying his popularity, especially among women, his stories do command box office takings. The most notable adaption of his work was 2004’s The Notebook, it’s a film aptly nicknamed “the movie your girlfriend will make you watch over, and over again”. Sadly, this new adaption is a cliched, and hollow film with only a few redeeming features. It may not be that audiences have had enough of Sparks, it might be that his stories have just gone stale.
Katie (Julianne Hough) in an attempt to escape a serious yet mysterious event lands in Southport, North Carolina where she falls for widower Alex (Josh Duhamel). Eventually her dark secret catches up to her, and she’s forced to confront it. If that sounds like a generic description for a romance story, well it is. Frankly it’s uninspired and full of plot developments that exist purely because they have to. Were it not for the twist or two as you near the final act of the film I would absolutely be slamming this film. Clearly Sparks has a gift for telling stories, but I was left so bored for the most part that it would be easy to think this a pure cash grab.
The major key ingredient to a romantic drama is the leading couple, the chemistry must exist! Unfortunately Hough, and Duhamel are nowhere near the class Racheal McAdams and Ryan Gosling. For the most part they could be replaced with cardboard cut-outs and dubbed voices and you would lose none of the sexual tension or desire. It’s a real shame for this type of film, and it’s what the marketting team have traded on. Look at every poster for a Sparks film, it’s the two leads in an embrace about to kiss. Ugh. Can I call this romance porn? Because like porn, there is no plot and the acting is terrible!
It’s probably at this point I should declare I am not a huge fan of romance movies, or even romantic comedies. I find the genre to be as vapid as brainless action movies without the saturday night “popcorn” flick attraction. I certainly don’t mind then, I would happily watch The Notebook with my wife on occasion, although she would contest that. Regardless, even my wife found Safe Haven a tad boring, and a bit so-so.
This is a movie I’d recommend purely as a romantic date film, because there are no other options at the cinemas right now. Otherwise, steer clear, nothing to see here!