Safe Haven: Yet Another Cheesy Nicolas Sparks Adaptation
Cobie SmuldersJosh Duhamel...
Lasse HallstromLasse Hallström
In 1 Cinema
With seventeen novels and eight on-screen adaptations already in the bag, American novelist and screenwriter, Nicholas Sparks, seems to be the only contemporary romance-novelist out there that is slowly becoming an entire genre of his own.
Over the years, his melodramatic and gushy tales of pretty people falling in love – The Notebook, A Walk to Remember – have created their own legion of followers, and despite receiving nothing but scornful glances from the critics, and without really scoring big in the box-office, Sparks continues to deliver the cheese; his latest endeavour is no different.
Billing itself as a ‘romantic thriller’ the opening scenes of Safe Haven introduce us to Katie (Hough), a young woman who, after an incident that leaves her covered in blood, hops on a bus and flees her hometown of Boston. Eluding the hot pursuit of Detective Tierney (Lyons), Katie ends up in a small coastal town of Southport, North Carolina.
Finding solace in her new surroundings, Katie quickly settles in. She ends up getting a job waiting tables at a local restaurant and finds a small place to live in out in the woods; she befriends Jo (Smulders), who helps her adjust to the southern way of life and who, just like Katie, prefers the isolation of the place.
Naturally, the leading lady soon meets her leading man; Alex (Duhamel), a widower who runs a local convenience store and takes care of his two kids, Josh (Lomax) and Lexie (Kirkland). Although slightly resistant at first, Katie soon finds herself in the arms of the charming shop-owner and while their relationship blossoms, in an blissful ignorance, the determined Boston detective continues on his unrelenting mission of tracking her down and bringing her to justice.
Helmed by director, Lasse Hallstrom – who previously worked with the writer on his earlier lovey-dovey drama, Dear John – their latest romantic endeavour tries its best to be something that it’s not; a suspenseful romantic thriller. Attempting to break away from its comfort zone and away from the expected cheesy formula, proves tricky for everyone involved, where the story ends up tripping over its own unnecessarily twisted plot. The potentially interesting storyline isn’t really given time to develop and instead of bringing focus on the more weighty aspects, we are presented with trivial things such as remodelling the kitchen floor and building sand castles at sunset.
There are so many things wrong with this film and, surprisingly, it’s got nothing to do with its cast. Hough, who has no real acting background, proves an interesting choice and she rides the wave, so to speak. Duhamel does an okay job; the chemistry between the couple is present and they manage to settle into their polished backgrounds quite nicely.
Safe Haven is unsure of what it wants to be. Is it a cute romantic drama? Or, is it a romantic thriller? Is it worth it? Well, no not really, but considering the fact that the love for Spark’s fairy tales are showing no signs of going away, Safe Haven will provide some shelter to his faithful cohorts.