Romantic drama following the fortunes of a guarded young woman who unexpectedly finds love in a North Carolina town. Katie Feldman (Julianne Hough) stands out on arrival in Southport. Beautiful but highly reserved, she makes it clear that she expects to have little involvement in the social life of the town and its inhabitants. However, an unforeseen chain of events brings Katie close to Alex (Josh Duhamel), a widower who runs a store while also attempting to bring up his young children. As she inexorably falls in love with Alex and the children Katie begins to let down her guard, but doing so threatens to raise the dark secret she has been protecting. Will she find a way to reconcile the trauma of her past with the possibility of a brighter future?
is just the kind of smaller film that's easy to overlook and dismiss. It comes from good pedigree, with Lasse Hallstrom directing. Hallstrom's CV is an impressive one, with the likes of The Cider House Rules
and My Life As A Dog
both firm recommendations. Safe Haven
is a different beast, though, a tender romantic drama that, if you're in the right mood for it, sneaks into your heart.
It's based on the book of the same name by Nicholas Sparks, and stars Josh Duhamel and Julianne Hough, with the former playing a young widower with children, and the latter a woman very much with her guard up. Circumstance throws them together, and Safe Haven continues from there. You can probably trace most of what happens quite successfully.
To be fair, Safe Haven makes its fair share of mistakes that prevent it really becoming something special. It relies quite heavily on cliches, the narrative stretches credibility, and it never feels like it's real enough to fully gel. And yet, there's still a lot to like here, with the lead two performances in particular contributing to a pair of characters who are worth rooting for, in spite of the film's problems. Safe Haven might not be a classic, but it's still worth spending some time with. --Jon Foster