REVIEW: SAFE HAVEN
SYNOPSIS: An affirming and suspenseful story about a young woman’s struggle to love again, Safe Haven is based on the novel from Nicholas Sparks, the best-selling author behind the hit films The Notebook and Dear John. When a mysterious young woman arrives in a small North Carolina town, her reluctance to join the tight knit community raises
questions about her past. Slowly, she begins putting down roots, and gains the courage to start a relationship with Alex, a widowed store owner with two young children. But dark secrets intrude on her new life with such terror that she is forced to rediscover the meaning of sacrifice and rely on the power of love in this deeply moving romantic thriller.
REVIEW: Though I can’t claim to have read any of Nicholas Sparks’ books, I can say without a doubt that this might be one of his finest works to date after having had the privilege of viewing a few of his previous big-screen releases such as The Note Book and Dear John, to name a few. This latest effort seems to be at the top of the list and is well orchestrated by his previous collaborator, Director Lasse Hallstrom. Sparks, writer/producer, seems to be true to his art with this story that is somewhat reminiscent of that older Julia Roberts movie, “Sleeping with the Enemy.” I really liked how he displays the fearful journey from an abusive, sickening world to a relationship of love, peace and tranquility. I was left in awe as each character was introduced and seamlessly transformed from one state of being to another. Many of which dealt with tremendous heart-wrenching challenges and feats to overcome.
Needless to say Sparks seems to be a brand as well known as Coca-Cola, Mercedes Benz, or Microsoft. It’s a good bet that he would deliver an efficient, easy to follow story that is most definitely geared toward a female audience (That's not a sexist statement; just Google the stats on the percentage of women readers). It seems that his stories will always feature certain elements such as a "lost" boy/man and girl/woman will meet by chance in a beautiful setting on the North Carolina coast or a South Carolina setting. Love will blossom and eventually be kindled after a number of diversions along the path to true love. It is pretty obvious that this is Sparks’ happy place.
Josh Duhamel headlines this latest release and is a very likable character for the most part. His delivery and timing seemed to flow naturally without much effort and offered up great chemistry with his sexy co-star. I think the sloppy execution in the last 10 minutes of the film was cause for a questionable performance, but I was overall very pleased with him. He simply makes it look easy to be enveloped by the damsel in distress.
Most notably, 2011’s Footloose hottie Julianne Hough is Katie the attractive stranger with a dark secret who drifts into cozy Southport, N.C., trying to put some distance between herself and her disturbing recent past. She plays opposite Duhamel in what could be considered one of her best performances to date. She is absolutely mesmerizing in the role and is unmistakably the best choice for the part, by far.
Overall, I really liked how the majority of the flick continued on a mood of romance and light hearted humor, while frequently giving the audience glimpses into Katie's past. This gave the audience a nice blend of romance and suspense thrills. So all-in-all, this is a must-see-in-the-theater and or date-night movie. It seems to have it all; the love story, the suspense, and a little bit of a 'wow factor' in the form of a nice twist in the ending.
I highly recommend this one for die hard genre followers and thrill-seekers alike and give this latest effort, four and a half (out of five) stars for great delivery and substance.
By Movi-Man Stan
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