Safe Haven is launching in theatres on Valentine’s Day and for the Nicholas Sparks-inspired movie this is a prime position for another romantic drama to stand alongside his previous works like ‘A Walk to Remember’, ‘The Notebook’ and ‘The Lucky One’. My 15yo daughter was asking after the movie well in advance of its release, wanting to accompany her Dad to the review and for both of us, it was a memorable night out. There’s no doubt that Sparks knows how to play the heartstrings and this feature film was always expecting to line up the romantically inclined for a ride. It was clear even from the preview crowd that this was well targeted to the female audience with only about six male members attending amongst a crowd of around 120.
The precept for this encounter surrounds a mysterious young lady on the run with fear in her eyes only to hide in a small American coastal town. Taking the name Katie, our damsel played by Julianne Hough begins to trust the locals and falls for solo Dad Alex who is raising his two children after the death of his wife from cancer. With two broken people trying to find a fresh start the stage is set for hands edging together in the sand and sunlit backdrops to make you go ‘Aaaah’.
Director Lasse Hallström returns to the Sparks fold after his previous involvement heading up ‘Dear John’. Hallström is rightly revered for his works on Chocolat and The Cider House Rules and although this doesn’t quite draw out the same level of drama the production is very comfortable and meshes together with the romantic aspects of a warm family-friendly tale with some edgy thriller-paced pieces in the story.
Julianne Hough is very ‘at home’ in this role as a woman with a past reaching out for protection and love. It’s classic damsel stuff that needs a knight that stands tall in stature. Josh Duhamel is the right man for the job as Alex a Dad trying to raise a cute little lady who remembers the presence of her mother before she passed away. It’s a role that takes him a long way from the Transformer’s franchise and one he seems settled to enjoy. This was a debut performance for Mimi Kirkland as little Lexie and one she handles well stealing scene after scene with sparkles of cuteness. Dad, Alex’s job is a lot harder dealing with his older child Josh played by Noah Lomax. Josh remembers his Mum and doesn’t want his Dad to forget the lady he remembers for the woman who is new on the scene.
While this could be the guy meets girl routine we do have a couple of surprises thanks to Katie’s past catching up with her. David Lyons gives us another great performance as Tierney and I enjoyed the power of his commitment that puts more edge on the story. If you’ve loved his maniacal side in the TV series REVOLUTION then you’re in for more of a treat. Sometimes we cling close to love and sometimes we cling
closer to hide the fear. Safe Haven will have to fight for its happy ending but it is definitely worth its Valentine’s Day release to enjoy a night out for the ladies.