Based on the novel by Nicholas Sparks, Safe Haven, directed by Lasse Hallström, follows the story of Katie Feldman (Julianne Hough) as she makes her escape from a troubled past and settles in the sleepy, beach town of Southport, North Carolina where she meets a recent widower (Josh Duhamel), who is trying to get on with his life and find happiness again while raising his two young children. As the two come together and discover their love for each other, a secret from Katie's past comes back to threaten the newfound happiness in her present.
The movie starts off with a dark dark tone as we see Katie (Hough) desperately trying to escape a situation that is yet to be fully revealed. She makes her escape and settles in the town of Southport. Katie meets shop owner, Alex, and embarks on a romance with him. As time goes on Katie begins to feel more at home in Southport and more importantly, with Alex.
The majority of the film continues on this mood of romance and light hearted humor, while frequently giving the audience glimpses into Katie's past. After the big revelation of the conflict in question, things start to go downhill for the film. The last 30 minutes of the story were a bit sloppy. It seemed to me that in some sort of effort to keep the movie under two hours Hallström sacrificed a decent execution and a quality transition in order to keep audiences from growing tired and bored. Sacrificing quality for time, however, isn't always the best solution. I would have gladly watched another 20 or 30 minutes if it meant that more thought had gone into the resolution.
Josh Duhamel and Julianne Hough both gave decent performances. Duhamel was very likable and his delivery seemed to flow naturally without much effort. I think the sloppy execution in the last 30 minutes of the film was cause for a questionable performance, but I was overall very pleased with him.
Hough managed to make her character look lovable and relatable in her desire to escape her past while still living comfortably in the present. At times, her ability to evoke certain emotions appeared very forced, but overall she did a good job. She is still fairly new in her acting career so hopefully, with time, we'll be able to see her hone her craft and deliver an outstanding performance in the future.