Film review: Safe Haven
AUTHOR Nicholas Sparks is the king of slushy modern romance, tugging heartstrings with his emotionally wrought tales of love lost and found.
His books are a perfect fit for Hollywood and thus far, seven of his heart-tugging tomes have been adapted for the big screen, beginning in 1999 with Message In A Bottle starring Kevin Costner and Robin Wright.
Safe Haven adds a touch of suspense to the usual gooey mix, opening with a distraught wife, Erin Tierney (Julianne Hough), fleeing the scene of a crime.
The terrified spouse heads to the bus station with detective Kevin Tierney (David Lyons) in hot pursuit. She settles in North Carolina, Erin rechristens herself Katie Feldman and lands a job as a waitress. She lives in a remote cabin in the woods, and enjoys a flirtation with hunky widower Alex Wheatley (Josh Duhamel)
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Unfortunately, Tierney won't rest until he has found Erin, and he bends the law to search for clues to her whereabouts.
Drawing obvious comparisons with the 1991 Julia Roberts pot-boiler Sleeping With The Enemy, Safe Haven is undemanding fluff that doesn't stray once from a well-trodden narrative path.
Hallstrom, who directed Dear John, is in familiar, syrupy territory. Hough is luminous and there's pleasing chemistry with Duhamel. However, the shifts in gear with Tierney's inevitable arrival in Southport are jarring. A revelation about Katie's meek neighbour, Jo (Cobie Smulders), beggars belief and inspires unintended snorts of derision.