The Sparks is back! ‘Safe Haven’ (2013).

22 Feb

Safe Haven posterAnother week, another film based on a best-selling novel; this time, the filmic adaptation of Nicholas Sparks’ Safe Haven rears its rather pretty if empty head. Safe Haven follows the plot of the book to a tee: it presents a young woman, Katie (Julianne Hough) who escapes her old, troubled life in the city of Boston for a fresh start in a sleepy coastal town. However, remnants of her former life cannot be shaken, and elements of the new and the old collide in rather unspectacular ways.

Directed by Lasse Hallström, this film feels so much like an advertisement to come stay in Southport, North Carolina, where it was shot. Serene, and with consistently wonderful weather and unreasonably attractive people, if Safe Haven is at hit then bachelorettes will descend upon the small port town in their droves. While the drama is pleasant and the characters have a relative depth to them uncharacteristic of such romantic films, it is so formulaic you could probably look it up in a geometry book; pretty characters, awful dialogue, impossibly great weather and a fairly predictable antagonist. Hough and her fellow lead Josh Duhamel both play their parts well, but some incredibly hammy one-liners and dreadfully edited action scenes attempt to jeopardise their efforts.

Similar to Chocolat in terms of plot though could perhaps be more accurately labelled as the ‘anti-Notebook’, this movie works for the most part. Completely passable, watchable if unoriginal, this film would have been fine if underwhelming, if not for the ending. Once the climactic inferno has reached its height, Sparks throws this ridiculous, completely silly twist into the mix which is not only extremely out of place, but only serves to undermine all which has come before. It seems desperate in its unfeasibility, as if the director couldn’t fathom a reasonable way to pull the plug. Ultimately cheapening of the movie as a whole, it really is a terrible ending and one which for many, me included, will ruin the entire film.

Props must be given for staying true to the spirit of the novel: the movie version refuses to deviate from its source material, which could be seen as either its greatest strength or its Achilles’ heel, depending on the type of movie-goer you are. If you are a casual, undemanding fan of romance films based on airport fiction, then you are certainly the intended audience. However, on a technical level, Safe Haven fails. The aforementioned problems combined with really obvious colour coding (Boston is uniformly blue and dank, whereas Southport is brightly orange, even at night) will test the nerves of many. Safe Haven is set apart from Sparks’ other movies by having one of the most idiotic endings in movie history, though will doubtless still appeal to many.

Simon says: just go on holiday instead. Less bullshit twists!

[Written for The Student Standard]

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4 Responses to “The Sparks is back! ‘Safe Haven’ (2013).”

  1. CMrok93 February 22, 2013 at 3:34 pm #

    Pretty damn bad. I mean if you like this type of stuff, then good for you. But for me, I hated this one and wish I never saw it. Like most Nicholas Sparks-adaptations. Good review.

    • Simon Mernagh February 23, 2013 at 1:07 am #

      Same, previous Sparks movies (The Notebook etc) all either bored me to tears or at least made me wish I was elsewhere. Thanks! 😀

  2. bankholidaytuesday February 22, 2013 at 4:39 pm #

    Ahhh, Nicholas Sparks. He’s a special kind of hack

    • Simon Mernagh February 23, 2013 at 1:06 am #

      If Nicholas Sparks movies are your thing, then this movie actually works fairly well. The ending is almost too nutty for words, though.

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