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Safe Haven also known as “Safe Haven - Wie ein Licht in der Nacht,” “Um Porto Seguro,” “Vicino a te non ho paura”

MPAA Rating: PG-13-Rating (MPAA) for thematic material involving threatening behavior, and for violence and sexuality.

Reviewed by: Thaisha Geiger

Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teens Adults
Romance Thriller Drama Adaptation
1 hr. 55 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
February 14, 2013 (wide—3,000+ theaters)
DVD: May 7, 2013
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Relevant Issues
Copyright, Relativity Media

finding love again / second chances

TRUE LOVE—What is true love and how do you know when you have found it? Answer

trying to join a tight-knit community



PURITY—Should I save sex for marriage? Answer

FEAR, Anxiety and Worry—What does the Bible say? Answer

reluctance to trust

domestic abuse

Featuring: Julianne HoughKatie
Josh DuhamelAlex
Cobie SmuldersJo
Irene Ziegler … Mrs. Feldman
Jon Kohler … Bus Station Clerk
Tim Parati … Bus Station Worker
David Lyons … Tierney
Giulia Pagano … Pushy Bus Woman
Juan Carlos Piedrahita … Jr. Detective Ramirez
Red West … Roger
Noah Lomax … Josh
Mimi Kirkland … Lexie
See all »
Director: Lasse Hallström—“Chocolat,” “What's Eating Gilbert Grape,” “The Cider House Rules,” “Casanova”
Producer: Nicholas Sparks Productions
Relativity Media
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Distributor: Relativity Media

Katie (Julianne Hough) is fearfully on the run. She gets on a bus and decides to begin a new life in North Carolina. Alex (Josh Duhamel) is a widower raising 2 children and immediately notices the newcomer to the small, idyllic town. Although Katie is fearful to trust again, she slowly begins a romance with the single father, while her violent past zealously tracks her down.

If you’re a fan of Nicholas Sparks, you’ll certainly enjoy “Safe Haven.” It has a different feel to it than his other novel/film adaptations. This love story is not about first love, but about second chances. Although Alex still misses his first wife, he isn’t afraid to love again; Katie is at first skeptical of Alex, but she sees his kindness and slowly begins to trust. While Alex’s kids do mourn their late mother, they accept Katie, and she treats them well; it is refreshing not to have the cliché of the overly disrespectful child. Some thrill and suspense help add spice to what would have been an overly simple love story. I was surprised by Julianne Hough’s performance and believe that she and Josh Duhamel have decent chemistry.

Those looking for an original or deeper love story likely won’t enjoy “Safe Haven.” The movie reminds me a lot of the film “Sleeping with the Enemy.” Except for a few flashbacks, Katie’s past remains unknown for the majority of the movie. Her reluctance to trust doesn’t last long; I would have loved if more of her past would have been shown, and if her wounds would’ve taken a bit longer to heal. This would have helped make the story more authentic, but, then again, this likely would have been too thematically heavy for a Valentine’s Day release.

Objectionable Content

There are about 10 uses of profanity: 1 GD, 2 hell, 1 d_mn, and 5 sh_t. The Lord and Jesus’ names are misused a few times, too.

There is some moderate violence. Some flashbacks are shown of domestic abuse: a woman is thrown around and hit. In self defense, she stabs her abuser in the abdomen. Later on, a man punches a woman in the face; while fighting for control over a gun, one character is shot. This scene is quick and bloodless. A man sets a house on fire, knowing there are people inside.

Throughout the entire movie, Katie wears revealing clothes, from short shorts to low-cut shirts. Katie and Alex share a passionate kiss. She wraps her legs around his waist, and he pushes her against a tree. There is one sex scene; the couple is shown in a montage of up-close kissing scenes, and their bare backs are shown. It’s hinted that Katie moves in with Alex. Some Christians might be offended that the entire basis of Alex and Katie’s love story is essentially adultery.

When Alex finds out why Katie is running, he does react in anger, but he soon apologizes and is determined to stay by her side and help her through it. He emphasizes how much he loves her and that they can get through it together. It reminded me of Romans 12:9-10:

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.

Overall, the movie is well paced and a simple enjoyment, but I personally found it a bit too shallow for my taste; the completely random ending didn’t help, either. I did like it better than “Dear John” or “The Lucky One”. While I don’t personally recommend it, I suggest viewers wait for the DVD release.

Violence: Moderate / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Heavy

Sex, Love and Relationships Learn how to make your love the best it can be. Discover biblical answers to questions about sex, marriage, sexual addictions, and more.

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive—“Katie,” a girl escaping from her violent past, hides away in a small seaside village where she meets Alex and his two children who are trying to get over his wife’s death from cancer. Katie immediately connects with them, and also another young woman who is her neighbour in the community. She gets a waitress job and buys a rustic cabin away from the village. There she is able to re-evaluate what is important and discover a safe haven away from her troubled life.

I quite enjoyed this latest Nicholas Sparks” offering about second chances. First of all, it is a beautiful love story, even though it’s outside God’s guidelines for a right relationship. Some people will be offended, as they have sex outside the marriage relationship and technically commit adultery. It is also a suspenseful thriller and contains some violence of a domestic nature, which made parts hard to watch. There is very little swearing in the film, but it does contain some vulgar language (sh word) as well as two uses of “For C’s Sake,” which were very disappointing.

As a Catholic Christian, Nicholas Sparks often puts a Christian symbol in his stories, but I did not notice that this time. Despite its flaws, there are some good messages in this film. I feel the symbolism of the desk is that true love stands the test of time and will last forever. That’s really what this movie is about… finding true love and getting a second chance at life. It’s not perfect, from a Christian standpoint, but I think it is a good film, overall.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
Kathy Pj, age 52 (Canada)
Positive—Hi, my name is Jody Harker. I live in Wilmington, N. C and was on the set a lot of the time during the filming of “Safe Haven”. They built the set next door to a good friend in Southport and most of the boats in the background are owned by people I know. I got to meet Julianne and Josh and even did a scene with them one day (Boat Customer). They were very mannerly and down-to-earth. The cast and crew really work long hard days. I also have a TV show coming out in March that was filmed at my home. I found your Web site by accident, and appreciate your Christian values. God Bless. P.S., One site has my movie credit as an actress, but it should be actor…
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
Jody, age 49 (USA)
Positive—This was an intense movie to watch. I didn’t know it had anything to do with domestic violence and being that I have been through that, it was very intense to see it—and emotional. It was a well made movie though, and the acting was very good. It was suspenseful, as well. Not much cursing, at all; a little intense with the violence. Definitely not a movie for younger kids. Also, important to know that people do not come back from the dead to guide us. That is not scriptural, yet this movie never claimed to be so.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
Amanda, age 39 (USA)


Comments from young people
Positive—This movie was awesome! There is a sex scene that certainly could have been shorter and less graphic, and there is some kissing. The abuse scenes can be hard to watch, but they are WAY less detailed and graphic than the book and does not go into the sexual abuse. I, in no way shape or form, recommend it for younger viewers. “Safe Haven” definitely earned its PG-13 rating. It stayed rather true to the book, which I appreciate! A must see!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
Abbey, age 16 (USA)
Neutral—I thought this film was really good, and I would definitely watch it again. It was really nice to have something in the film to make the love story more interesting. Things in the film that let it down were language and a sex scene. The language was pretty mild in comparison to some films today, but the film still would have been better without it. I counted 2 bulls**t’s, 1 sh*t, and several misuses of the Lord’s name. The sex scene I forwarded, so I don’t really know much about that, but what the reviewer said. There are also some violent scenes (i.e., abuse). Also, like the reviewer said, this movie could be said to be based on adultery.

Despite those things, I think it was a really great movie and I would watch it again but I also think due to these things that it should be a neutral review. It is a very sweet story with a good twist, and I did really enjoy it.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
Connie, age 16 (United Kingdom)

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