Safe Haven (2013)

Posted by Maria Mills | Posted on 8:49 PM | Posted in

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Movie Review written by: Born Movie Reviews
RT Critics Rating: 1.2/10

Born Movie Reviews' Rating: 4/10

Exclusively Early Review:
SAFE HAVEN (2013) - Lasse Hallström

For a film based upon a novel written by the same author who wrote The NotebookSafe Haven is predicted formula ever since its promotion. After opening with a familiar scene of the lead character moving out of town, 2013's new Valentine drama treads in water already. The Vow was last year, why not make another one this year?

Safe Haven revolves around Katie Feldman (Julianne Hough), a young woman who runs away to Southport, North Carolina, hoping to put her troubled past behind and start a new life. There, she meets Alex Wheatley (Josh Duhamel), a father of two who lost his wife. As this friendship slowly evolves into relationship, Katie finds her dark secret coming back to haunt her.

Like all romantic dramas, Safe Haven aims to build chemistry between the two leads. Unfortunately, like all recent sappy flicks, Safe Haven is also plagued with cardboard characters.

Feldman is indeed more of an original character in love stories, due to the fact that she has something worth caring about. Sadly, Hough manages to deliver by the narrowest of margins. Even when she has a troubling past, the entire film shows her doing many things that you simply would not if you were in her situation. Once again, a good portion of our female lead falls under the formulaic label of "female who suffered and can't think straight right now." Actually, if you can get Kristen Stewart to laugh, then this might make no difference.

As for Wheatley, his character has been seen countless times in other romance dramas. It is even worse when an attractive male actor is cast instead of an actor who could have fit the role of a widower. You can cast Hugh Grant instead of Josh Duhamel and the film will make no difference. Think back to When Harry Met Sally and ask yourself: Why Billy Crystal? Because he was right for the role. With cheesy dialogue bouncy back and forth between the two flavorless leads, Safe Haven is clear to be a film that prioritizes attractive couples over genuine substance.

Safe Haven also lacks a proper screenplay. Despite its interesting story, Safe Haven bears no rhythm in its narrative, resulting in three acts unevenly woven together. Not only can this be seen in something as large as writing, but also in something technical like editing. Eventually, when the story transitions to the love aspect, the scenes are virtually tasteless, sometimes even hilarious in a negative way. 

With barely anything else to help enhance characterization, director Hallström is forced to squeeze beautiful nature images onto the screen, hoping that they will convince the audience that the protagonists are in love. Oh, what a beautiful pond that they are canoeing in. They must be in love! Oh, look, now it's raining and they are laughing their hearts out. They must be in love! The result becomes contrived and heavily labored.

Thankfully, Safe Haven is not emotionally manipulative. At least it does not try to squeeze tears out of the viewers' eyes. However, it is undeniable that barely anything exciting happens in the film. Though the narrative does sometimes slow down and take time to develop certain emotions between characters, it never escalates to tense moments. In all seriousness, there is a wide plethora of superior romance films out there. Hell, even The Notebook is superior to this.

In conclusion, Safe Haven is a romance drama at its most monotonous. Certainly, the story means well and tries to tell an affirming tale with spirit. Nevertheless, this plot's true potential is ultimately undone by dull characters, lumpy pacing, and tacky writing. Then again, Safe Haven is exactly what one would expect out of a romance drama to be released on Valentine's Day.

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