Emily Mlynarek ’14 | Staff Writer
This Valentine’s Day weekend, yet another addition was made to the endless collection of romantic dramas based on Nicholas Sparks’ novels. The much-anticipated box office hit, “Safe Haven” is marketed as a romantic drama, but it quickly becomes more of a stalker-thriller under the direction of Lasse Hallstrom.
The movie stars ballroom dancer turned actress, Julianne Hough, and hunky actor Josh Duhamel and as a chick-flick, ‘Safe Haven’ fulfilled the expectations of its female demographic. However, compared to Hallstrom’s first adaption, “The Vow”, another Sparks novel, “Safe Haven” is sub-par.
‘Safe Haven’ begins with Katie (Hough), a young woman, running from the law, but for what reason we are not yet told. As the movie continues, however, constant flashbacks provide more clues into what and who she is hiding from.
Katie takes refuge in Southport, a small North Carolina town, but her reluctance to engage with the friendly, tight-knit, community raises questions about her past which she is unwilling to answer.
The plot line is basic, as (spoiler alert) Alex (Duhamel), a local widower and single father to two adorable children, falls for Katie. Of course, Katie soon lets her guard down and falls in love with Alex, and the newly formed family bonds over cheesy beach vacations and town festivals.
Throughout the movie, Katie is obsessively pursued by crazed Detective Tierney (David Lyons). As any viewer could have predicted, as soon as Katie and Alex have let their guards down and settled into their new life together, Tierney finds Katie’s hiding place and threatens to ruin it all.
Plot twist after plot twist keeps the story alive. “Safe Haven” had the potential to be an interesting movie, but it was filled with too much nonessential fluff. The plot was very melodramatic, especially how Detective Tierney goes about his obsession with Katie. The worst fluff of all was at the end, when the audience learns that one of the characters is actually either a ghost or a figment of Katie’s imagination (this is unclear). The idea of this “ghost” could have been far clearer if it had been presented in the beginning of the movie.
Another pitfall is that, while Hough and Duhamel are stunningly attractive, they lack chemistry on screen. Although the two were supposedly in love, it felt like their intimate moments were cheesy, awkward, and all too often cut short.
Honestly, the most entertaining character to watch was Alex’s adorable four-year-old daughter, Lexie, played by Mimi Kirkland. Kirkland seemed to have more enthusiasm for her role than any of the other actors.
‘Safe Haven’ does have its moments, which makes the romantic drama a tear jerker. Since ‘Safe Haven’ is about a young woman’s escape from the law and young widower’s attempt to love again, it is obviously not the cheeriest movie.
Overall, ‘Safe Haven’ will satisfy cravings for a chick flick, but fails to be anything but forgettable in a world where ‘The Notebook’ and ‘The Vow’ rule the romantic drama genre.