Traditionally movies will usually open on a Friday. This year is special because Valentine’s Day falls on a Thursday and more than a couple of movies will open today rather than tomorrow. The obvious Valentine’s Day date movie is “Safe Haven” based on the novel written by Nicholas Sparks and starring Julianne Hough and Josh Duhamel.
We meet Katie (Hough) who appears to be escaping from a very abusive relationship (although that is not made entirely clear). She takes refuge in a small town in North Carolina where she gets a job, but otherwise wants to keep to herself. She meets Alex (Duhmel) a widower with two young children who she slowly starts to develop feelings for and him for her. They may actually find true love with one another, but a Boston police detective is on her case and will stop at nothing to find her.
“Safe Haven” delivers what you expect from a Nicholas Sparks movie making it the perfect movie for Valentine’s Day. A great night can consist of a nice dinner, seeing the movie and then making love when you get home. The movie is more than romantic enough to get you both in the mood. Guys might worry that this is only a “chick flick”, but there is a sense of danger and impending doom that is usually absent from a movie like this.
The movie takes its time developing the relationship between Katie and Alex. This wouldn’t work as a love at first sight type of movie. It works for this movie although it will feel a little draggy at times. There are also some questions regarding the main antagonist, but those issues can’t be explored here without spoiler parts of the movie.
The cast all do great work. Julianne Hough is quickly building a solid resume for herself. Duhamel is strong, yet vulnerable. David Lyons plays the cop pursuing Katie and he can be downright scary at times. Mimi Kirkland plays Alex’s daughter, Lexie. She is cute, adorable and steals every scene she is in.
Will “Safe Haven” make you cry? It certainly induced plenty of tears from the group of people who caught an advanced screening of it at the Regal Royal Palm. It was directed by Lasse Hallström who has directed “Dear John” so he has experience working in the tear jerker genre. It is rated PG-13 for thematic material involving threatening behavior, and for violence and sexuality.