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Safe Haven - DVD Review

Safe Haven

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 2 out of 5

IT’S damning Safe Haven with faint praise to say that it’s not the worst adaptation of a Nicholas Sparks’ novel to reach the screen. But it’s not a particularly good film either.

Wholly derivative of everything from Sleeping With The Enemy to everything in Sparks’ own notebook, this engages in fits and starts but ultimately underwhelms. And that’s before the twist in the tale that comes from nowhere and leaves you pretty flabergasted (but not in a good way).

As with so many of Sparks’ stories, this one begins with a traumatic situation as a young woman named Katie (Julianne Hough) is seen running from the scene of a crime to Southport, North Carolina, where she attempts to create a new life for herself.

As luck would have it, there’s a hunky widower dad (Josh Duhamel’s Alex) waiting in the wings to offer comfort and support (as well as to do some healing of his own) as well as a friend and ally in Jo (Cobie Smulders). But searching for her doggedly is a cop, Tierney (David Lyons), who is determined to bring her to justice for the crime she appears to have committed.

Directed by Lasse Hallström (who has previously helmed the Sparks’ adaptation Dear John), Safe Haven offers an easy enough watch for hopeless romantics who like to see every box ticked on the way to a happy resolution.

Hough and Duhamel make attractive, if lightweight leads, the Southport setting enables Hallström to indugle his passion for delivering picturesque backdrops, and Lyons adds an element of grit and menace as the chasing cop.

But when not stealing from Sleeping With The Enemy, or shamelessly manipulating viewers emotions with every trick in the book (kids struggling to overcome the loss of a mother, secrets that threaten to undermine a good thing, break-ups and inevitable last minute forgiveness), this doesn’t really have much to offer that’s new or even fresh.

The last act ‘twist’, meanwhile, is the type that may well leave viewers gasping by virtue of its absurdity… and then sniggering, or groaning, that they could be taken in by such sentimental tosh. Suffice to say, it’s not the kind of twist that stands up to close scrutiny. But then Sparks fans probably won’t mind a jot.

Certificate: 12
Running time: 115mins
UK DVD & Blu-ray Release: July 8, 2013