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DVD Review

DVD cover

Safe Haven


Starring: Julianne Hough, Josh Duhamel, David Lyons and Cobie Smulders
Distributor: Entertainment One
RRP: £19.99
Certificate: 12
Release Date: 08 July 2013

Escaping from the city, chased by the police, Katie gets on a bus to Atlanta. She means to go all the way until she takes a short stop in the small town of Southport, delighted with its charms she doesn’t get back on the bus, and instead she gets a job at a local restaurant and moves into an isolated cabin in the wood. She meets her neighbours Jo and Alex, who owns the local convenience store. Over a period of time they start to fall for each other, but the police haven’t forgotten about her and are slowly closing in...

Safe Haven (2013 - 1 hr, 51 min, 05 sec) is a mystery/romance film directed by Lasse Hallström, based on the original novel by Nicholas Sparks. The film won awards for its poster and TV spot.

Ok! Straight up, this film is chock full of stock characters which have been seen in other films. Katie (Julianne Hough) is the woman on the run, we first see her fleeing what seems to be a crime, and this impression is further enhanced by the fact that the police are hunting her. Half an hour into the film, we discover that she is wanted for first degree murder. On the one hand this seems plausible as we are confidents to her reoccurring nightmares, which tantalise with violent images, but no actual proof she killed anyone. On the other, Katie is such an engagingly pleasant person that it’s difficult to imagine her killing someone.

Her plan of secretly hiding out in Southport starts to go wrong; she meets her nearest neighbour, Jo (Cobie Smulders), who almost immediately makes friends with her. She also meets handsome widower, Alex (Josh Duhamel), who is trying to bring up his two, cute as a button, kids, Josh (Noah Lomax) and Lexie (Mimi Kirkland). Slowly she finds herself drawn to these people. All the while Tierney’s (David Lyons) investigation is leading him nearer Southport.

The film is an unapologetic romantic film; with darker elements regarding Katie’s past, so it’s pretty much a remake of Sleeping with the Enemy (1991). We watch as the two main characters slowly falling in love against the background of a lovely town and its open and welcoming inhabitants. So what if she gets a place and a job with insane ease, or that acceptance of her is total and unquestioning by everyone she meets, the main focus of the film is on the growing relationship between Alex and Katie. The will they, wont they is obviously spoilt by the films poster, which pretty much guarantees that they will fall in love.

The film shamelessly uses the tropes of the romantic film to manipulate the audience’s hearts. We have the adorable children trying to come to terms with the death of their mother, a romance that nearly goes wrong, until love wins through, but it’s all done with heart and will appeal to anyone who is hopelessly romantic. The film message about the redemptive power of love would easily have achieved its ends without the crime elements, which often feel superfluous, right up to the point when we discover what really happened to Katie. Ultimately, it’s a safe film which skirts the edge of sickly, but never quite tips over. That is until the last five minutes, when the film presents you with a WTF M. Night Shyamalan ending which comes out of nowhere.

The disc is presented with an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, with audio options for 2.0 or DD 5.1 surround, with optional English subtitles. The disc has a number of extras, including the Trailer (1 min, 09 sec),Deleted and Extended Scenes (4 min, 36 sec) which doesn’t add anything to the film, Igniting the Romance in Safe Haven (8 min, 54 sec), with the cast and crew discussing the film. Josh Duhamel’s Lessons in Crabbing (2 min, 59 sec) with the actor showing you how to go crabbing, a Set Tour (2 min, 14 sec) takes you round some of the locations and Alternative Ending (3 min, 29 sec), with more of Jo included.

There’s not much in the way of originality in the film, but what it does it does well.


Charles Packer

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