Review: Safe Haven

Kristina Carroll ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Staff

Julianne Hough and Josh Dumehel star in "Safe Haven" hitting theaters Feb. 14. © Copyright 2012 RELATIVITY MEDIA. All Rights Reserved.
Julianne Hough and Josh Duhamel star in “Safe Haven” hitting theaters Feb. 14. © Copyright 2012 RELATIVITY MEDIA. All Rights Reserved.
When you think of Nicholas Sparks, you think of the typical romance novel: two strangers fall in love.  Once in love, they are faced with an obstacle or conflict that usually forces them to break up for a brief amount of time (unless you’re Noah and Allie in The Notebook, and spend years living alone in complete misery).  In the end, they are usually reunited and go on to live happily ever after.    For every chick flick that has stemmed from the bestsellers written by Nicholas Sparks (The Notebook, Dear John, The Lucky One, and The Last Song to name a few), the basic story has more or less been the same.  And yet, teenage girls all across the world flock to theaters every time a new one is released.
For the newest addition to the long list of classic Nicholas Sparks films, there is much more to the story than an unexpected romance that is briefly interrupted by a conflict but is then soon resolved.  Safe Haven consists of both traditional and new elements which, when combined, result in a romance movie that is completely unique of anything that has come before it.  For those of you who are lovers of the typical Nicholas Sparks storyline and are a bit disappointed with Safe Haven’s” decision to try new things—don’t be!  The movie still fits in perfectly with its predecessors, the only difference being that the content is much more diverse.  And for those who can’t really call themselves fans of the genre, you might be pleasantly surprised by what this movie has to offer.
You may be asking how a Nicholas Sparks movie could possibly be diverse in content.  Well, for one thing, the film starts out with protagonist Katie (Julianne Hough) frantically running through a bus station, disguised as a pregnant woman.  We soon see that she is being chased by a policeman (David Lyons), who is holding a picture of her, but with much longer and darker hair.  It doesn’t take much to figure out that she is changing her identity, and looking for a place to start off fresh, after whatever crime she committed.  The movie maintains this thriller element throughout the entire film, something which is definitely different from any of Nicholas Sparks’ other works.  Not only does this change things up in terms of the plot, but it also appeals to a wider audience, by focusing on more than just the stereotypical chick-flick aspects.
After the bus takes Katie to a tiny, desolate town in North Carolina, she finds herself wandering into a convenience store owned by a widowed man named Alex (Josh Duhamel).  She soon becomes friendly with his young daughter Lexie (Mimi Kirkland), whose pure adorableness would make even the biggest Nicholas Sparks hater smile.  Katie even makes an impression on Alex’s son Josh (Noah Lomax), who hasn’t exactly been the most agreeable kid since his mother died.  As is expected, Katie and Alex start off with a very awkward relationship but soon find themselves completely in love with each other, thanks to some advice given to her by her new neighbor Jo (How I Met Your Mother’s Cobie Smulders).  However, the past life that Katie ran away from soon resurfaces, and causes a lot of trouble not only for her and Alex, but also for the children.
The biggest thing that separates Safe Haven from most Nicholas Sparks films is the ending.  Going into the movie, you would think that the story ends after the relationship is resolved.  However, there is something besides the couple’s main storyline that results in the entire movie theater gasping over what is possibly the most shocking ending to a Nicholas Sparks film ever to be created.  What is it?  That’s something that you’ll have to find out for yourselves.
Overall, Safe Haven did an excellent job of keeping up with the standards of the Nicholas Sparks films, and even took it to a whole new level by incorporating violence, a thriller element, and a huge twist at the end.  Whether you’re an avid reader of his novels, to a person who never understood what the big deal was about these movies, you should definitely give this one a try.

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