Safe Haven (2013) (PG-13)
What is love?
This question has been asked time and time again. Philosophers devout their lives to the question. Poets try to recreate love on paper. Scientists look for a reason to quantify love...but none have truly duplicated the feeling of love. How can they? How could you possibly try to take as broad a topic as love and cram it into a book, movie, or poem?
The most recent attempt that I think has come the closest that I’ve even seen was Terrence Malick’s “To the Wonder”. The reason it was successful was because it didn’t try to answer the question: what is love? It simply stated that love is something that is intangible and wrapped its story around that.
So what does this all have to do with the newest Nicholas Spark’s book turned into a movie? Because of this: though we may not know what love is, we certainly know what love is not. Love can sometimes be irrational and rash, or logical and precise. But I have yet to hear of an actual story that recreated love in the way that “Safe Haven” portrays it.
The movie begins with a young woman fleeing a pursuer, whether that being is a real person or a memory or both is uncertain in the beginning shot but can be guessed rather easily. She runs to a bus station and purchases a ticket to Atlanta, Georgia. She evades a policeman who’s in pursuit and then settles in for the ride.
The bus takes a stop in a little town that is only good for being a stop on the bus route. For whatever reason, whether it was the hunky man who runs a little store or the seagulls and boats, this woman decides to stay in the little town.
The next day she plants her roots in the town—she gets a job as a waitress and rents an apartment, which needs a paint job which then brings her back to the store that said hunky man runs.
Hunky man, Alex, is immediately struck by Hot Runaway Chick. He gets flustered and stutters, but this is supposed to be adorable.
Hot Runaway Chick, Katie, right away bonds with Alex’s daughter, Lexie.
Then her talky next door neighbor gets caught spying on Katie and then is forgiven, because everyone is so nice in “Safe Haven”.
Much like the title would like to convey, this little town becomes Katie’s haven. She finds peace here and, of course, where there’s peace, there’s sex with the only hunky man in town.
This is what I don’t like about “Safe Haven”...it creates a wounded character and then has her acting completely normal. Julianne Hough plays Katie and she is very likable—she’s cute and blonde and all sorts of stereotypical. This isn’t a very natural character...neither is Alex for that matter.
Alex is played by the unbearable Josh Duhamel who simply can’t seem to say even one line without making me wince—he’s completely awful.
Then there’s the matter with the neighbors. Everyone opens up to Katie and she seems okay with this. Within five minutes of meeting her they’re already sharing intimate details of their life...things like that just don’t happen. Sure everyone’s friendly, but rarely do people say: “Hi, I’m Alex. My son hates me, how are you?”
Oh yeah, Katie finds out that Alex’s wife has conveniently died of cancer. Thank goodness the only hunky man in town is single, because his wife has died...that seems really romantic to me. I cannot emphasize how stupid I find the plot of this movie.
The nosy next door neighbor and Katie become BFFs and I grimace at the childishness of the script. I didn’t think that Josh Duhamel could be outdone for bad acting but Cobie Smulders of “How I Met Your Mother” fame claims the prize all for herself.
There’s so much that doesn’t make sense in this movie: the friendliness of the town people (who accredit their geniality to being Southern), the willingness of the children to accept of new woman into their life, the irrationality of a policeman (major flaw), but most of all—the lack of love.
Alex and Katie’s relationship is based purely on a sexual attraction, there’s no other indication besides a few clumsily worded lines that even tries to convince the viewer otherwise.
By the time the ending rolls around, I wasn’t even offended by the desperate last act reveal that didn’t work—I was raptured by the implausibility of the story, the phoniness of the actors, and the insipidness of the script.
I didn’t hate “Safe Haven”—though the previous sentences may seem to say just that. The movie is entertaining...in a corny, mindless sort of way.
Score: 1 and a half stars out of 4
Posted by Micah Jones