Safe Haven (2013)

Director:  Lasse Hallstrom
Cast:  Julianne Hough, Josh Duhamel, Cobie Smulders
Plot:  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.

Genre:  Drama / Mystery / Romance
Awards:  -
Runtime:  115min
Rating:  PG13 for thematic material involving threatening behavior, and for violence and sexuality.

(Guest Review by Joyce Tan)
Lasse Hallström brings yet another heart-warming movie to the big screen after Hachiko: A Dog’s Story (2009).  Ladies will swoon to see Josh Duhamel (Transformers, 2007) as a doting single-parent father of two.  Guys will go all out for Julianne Hough (Footloose, 2011) as the beautiful yet self-effacing woman.

Katie (Hough) appears in the small North Carolina town of Southport, determined to avoid forming personal ties until she begins to be drawn into the lives of Alex (Duhamel) and his two young children – Lexie (Mimi Kirkland) and Josh (Noah Lomax). But she struggles with a dark secret that still haunts and terrifies her.

This film serves as a great heart-tugging movie, with suspense surfacing every now and then.  All of the actors shine in their respective roles: Kirkland is a witty and clever looking girl, while Lomax plays the stubborn yet innocent mummy’s boy. 

Duhamel is the devoted widowed, playing both the mother and the father to the two children with his best effort.  Hough is the abused wife, looking for a place where she can hopefully start afresh.  She appears to be vulnerable but her strong will and determination will draw viewers to her.

Every female would want to have their own ‘happily ever after’.  But for Katie, she struggles with her inner self to trust and fall in love again.  The past that keeps haunting her forces her to keep running away.  Viewers will be in for a surprise, seeing Hough from a sexy dancer in Footloose, to an abused yet self-effacing woman.

At 115 minutes, this film is fairly long.  Like all screen adaptations of Nicholas Sparks’ works, there will be tear-jerking scenes, and of course, kissing and bed scenes.  There are a few times when the movie feels a bit drawn out with slightly too many scenes on the abusive husband desperately trying to look for the wife to no avail.

But the gorgeous scenery and romantic dialogue will hold the audiences’ attention and keep them interested.  For avid readers of Nicholas Sparks’ novels, you will have to enter the theatre with an open mind and enjoy the movie as the story unfolds.  For the rest of the audience, always expect the unexpected.

Rating: 3.5 stars  
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