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Safe Haven

February 18, 2013

Safe Haven (2013)
Director: Lasse Hallström
Actors: Julianne Hough, Josh Duhamel, David Lyons

Safe Haven

Synopsis: A woman (Julianne Hough) flees a scene of domestic violence in Boston, and finds an idyllic, sleepy coastal community in North Carolina as the ideal place to hide away. She starts to inveigle her way into the life of hunky widower, Alex (Josh Duhamel) and his kids, but a policeman (David Lyons) hell bent on tracking her down, finally catches up with her.

Review: This is my debut experience with the Nicholas Sparks subgenre of syrupy romantic dramas (think The Notebook or The Lucky One) which usually take place in some idealised corner of the US, and invariably revolve around a form of traumatic plot-hook – a recent bereavement or terminal illness – to invoke pathos in the narrative.

Safe Haven doesn’t disappoint in that regard – you slip into the story’s familiar slipstream right away – and, if nothing else, the two hour running time rattles by at a fair old pace. The sentimental, deathly plot twist is particularly arch and exploitative though. It’s essentially a means to endow further dignity and treacle on an already romantically portrayed thirtysomething father and his two impossibly cute kids. At the centre of the narrative is Julianne Hough’s runaway wife, and though her character is theoretically meant to be stern and opaque in the opening strands of the film as she tries to build her new life, Hough’s lack of charisma and acting credibility do harm the plausability of her character’s narrative arc somewhat. But then, Hough was probably cast because of her fanbase and good looks, so criticism of her casting is by the by. (February 2013)

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