Reviewed by: Thaisha Geiger
finding love again / second chances
trying to join a tight-knit community
reluctance to trust
|Featuring:||Julianne Hough … Katie
Josh Duhamel … Alex
Cobie Smulders … Jo
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
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|Director:||Lasse Hallström—“Chocolat,” “What's Eating Gilbert Grape,” “The Cider House Rules,” “Casanova”|
|Producer:||Nicholas Sparks Productions
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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.
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:
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
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.