Nicholas Sparks Did It Again

Safe Haven, a Nicholas Sparks novel-made-movie, is the story of a young woman running from her past and straight into the town of her unknown future soul mate. Although the movie has a sappy feel like many of the Nicholas Sparks adaptations, it turned out to be one of my favorites. Several factors helped me to make this decision.

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First, the movie was suspenseful, which was different altogether from the other Nicholas Sparks movies. Although in Dear John war is involved, in Safe Haven, a literal crazy killer is on the loose and after the main character, Katie, played by Julianne Hough. The scene where Katie and her new beau Alex’s daughter, Lexie, are inside the house on the 4th of July when the villain and Katie’s alcoholic ex-husband, Tierney, attacks them and sets the house on fire kept me on the edge of my seat cheering for Alex, played by Josh Duhamel, to come to the rescue.

I also enjoyed the casting in the movie. Although this is not a new concept in the Nicholas Sparks movies, I found the casting in Safe Haven to be especially accurate to what I had imagined from reading the book. Julianne Hough played a perfect Katie; insecure and fearful, yet confident and beautiful. Josh Duhamel was a wonderful characterization of the protector and newfound lover for Katie.

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The movie also held an element of surprise for those who had not read the book previously to watching the film in the character of Jo, Katie’s mysteriously elusive friend who lives near her in the woods. It isn’t until the end of the movie that we discover that Jo is actually Alex’s deceased wife through the letter she left and some flash backs given to us through Katie. Although some keen watchers may have picked up on the clues, without reading the book, I would not have known that Jo was Alex’s wife from simply watching the movie until the end when it is made clear to us.

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The third and final thing I especially enjoyed about Safe Haven in relation to the other Nicholas Sparks movies was the overall happy ending. In many of the Nicholas Sparks movies, the central theme tends to be lost love and the heartache that ensues. However, after watching Safe Haven, I did not feel thoroughly depressed. I may be cliché, but I very much enjoy a movie that doesn’t leave me saddened for days. The ending is complex and does not have a simple ending, but leaves the viewer with a positive feeling and an open ending with what looks like a future between Alex and Katie.

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Nicholas Sparks movies never disappoint me when I am in the mood for a sappy, heartwrenching love story, but Safe Haven was especially rewarding to watch. I found the movie to have just the right blend of elements and proved to be an uplifting and enjoyable experience.

Sparks, Nicholas, writ. Safe Haven. Dir. Lasse Halstrom. DVD.