Director: Lasse Hallstrom.
Content Rating: PG 13 for thematic material involving containing threatening behaviour, and for violence and sexuality.
IMDB: Safe Haven
A young woman with a mysterious past lands in Southport, North Carolina where her bond with a widower forces her to confront the dark secret that haunts her.
Overall, it was a beautiful movie that avoided the usual cliches and 'soppiness' of Sparks with the brilliant thriller element.
The reason I enjoyed the book of Safe Haven so much was because it wasn't just a romance.
It was a thriller.
It avoided the usual cliches and tediousness of Sparks' novels (in my opinion, they are mostly boring and cheesy), and while it obviously did have some of that (it wouldn't be Sparks if it didn't) it was definitely a better book because of the added thriller aspect.
Likewise, the movie was a better movie because it wasn't just your typical chick flick. For my particular tastes, it was thus a better film. It had so much more; it was exciting, it was emotional, it was painful, but it was beautiful.
And I mean that in the most heart-breaking, heart-absorbing sense.
It was beautiful.
The cinematography was decent and the scenery idyllic. The sun sprinkled beach and boats, the homely restaurant, and the roaming forests could be picturesque one minute and frighteningly chilling the next. The atmosphere could change in a flash, and yet the entire setting of the story was swept with a very down-to-earth, storybook-like breath of fresh air.
As an additional note, I thought there was also one scene that got very close to copying The Notebook: when Katie and Alex were on the lake in the boat and the flowers were floating around them......so Noah & Allie. The similarity became inevitably obvious when it even started to rain! and I half expected them to kiss.......
Still, it was a lovely scene :)
The script was lovely. The dialogue was beautiful, although nothing incredibly profound, and the action started immediately from the beginning. My heart was racing the entire time; it was brilliant and never boring.
The film added and altered a lot of details from the book, but I thought most of the changes were natural and, actually, a big improvement on the book's version (with one exception: the film's climax was too short and I didn't like how they cut a lot of the action - although admittedly, it is understandable because it's a film not a book).
The dazzles of humour made me smile frequently, and the certain additional scenes that weren't in the book were perfectly included to form shots of beauty and passion that were just amazing and natural and so wholesome.
I particularly loved this additional scene where Alex and Kate were in his store at night and they started dancing. They start to kiss and hold each other, and honestly that scene has got to be one of my favourites in the film. It was so beautiful.
The acting was decent all round. The exceptions were the kids - the girl, especially, was one of the most infuriating child actors I have ever seen. The boy wasn't much better.
Cobie Smulders and David Lyons were good in their supporting roles (Smulders was Katie's friend, Jo). Lyons was chilling and violently frantic as Katie's abusive husband, and he dove headfirst into the panic and cruelty of his character with strong results.
Julianne Hough I feel a bit...'hmm' about. She wasn't how I pictured Katie when I read the book, and somehow, although she was lovely most of the time, she didn't quite show the reactions and personality that I expected from Katie after reading the book. But having said that, she did win me over through her chemistry with Josh Duhamel......
WHOA. 'Dat chemistry tho'. Hough and Duhamel were on fire; it's the kind of chemistry that can bring tears to your eyes because it's so raw, so honest, so beautiful, and so intense. At least, it brought tears to my easy-to-make-cry eyes (what can I say, true love moves me).
They were a gentle, gorgeous couple; heartbreaking and affirming. When Alex ran after Katie to convince her to stay, my heart literally burned. That moment was so beautiful.
Hough and Duhamel weren't Ryan & Rachel's Noah and Allie, but their chemistry was certainly on point - rain or no rain ;)
The story was a gut-wrenching one. The conflict tore at my heart, as does anything that hurts women or sees them in abusive situations.
But Alex and Katie's romance was beautiful among the shadows, and it shone, radiantly and triumphantly, to show hope and strength.
Whew! Now that I've absolutely pored my heart out........
I give it: 4 flowers!