Review: Safe Haven is a great Valentine’s Day movie choice

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, the new Josh Duhamel & Julianne Hough movie Safe Have is definitely a contender that lovebirds should consider watching tonight, its opening night. 
I’m not sure if the producers of this film could’ve picked a better date for a movie that has so many interesting parallels with a lot of things going on in pop culture lately.
But this film about a young woman who seeks out a sleepy North Carolina town to restart her life features a cabin in the woods, a fire of a wooden house, a deranged cop and some domestic violence. As a news junkie, my mind immediately went to the recent Christopher Dorner former police officer and cop-killer manhunt which ended with a fiery blaze to a cabin in the woods and the fact that this week, the US Senate voted to extend the Violence Against Women Act.
It’s more likely life is imitating art as the movie is based off of the Nicholas Sparks novel of the same name,Safe Haven. Sparks is the same author who brought us another romantic story, The Notebook. Safe Haven is directed by Lasse Hallstron who also directed  Dear John, Chocolat and The Cider House rules, which I absolutely loved and is another book turned coming of age movie.
The creators of the movie version of the Sparks book did a masterful job at bringing to life the very personable, like-able and relatable characters. The new girl in town, Katie (Julianne Hough), is escaping a troubled and recent past. She makes one friend, Jo, and settles in a cabin in the woods in a close knit coastal community  Although she takes a while to warm up, Katie eventually, falls for a handsome shopkeeper, a widower named Alex (Josh Duhamel) and his adorable daughter, Lexie, and rebellious but still cute 12 year old son, Josh, who is still upset over his mom’s death from cancer a few years prior. The kids reminded me of my own daughter and son and Alex is a great father and endearing figure and reminds me of my husband. Katie is just so cute. Before her single neighbor pal, Jo, convinces her to give in to Alex’s advances, you could tell she has her guard up because she is running away but really really wants to open up.  
The direction was well done and included a lot of human moments which made the film quite appealing. For example, the next scene after we see Katie do some acrobatics to grab a late night snack after painting the floors in her new home is one of her washing her feet. It was a wonderful illustration at how the subtle details of the film when woven in the storyline helped draw viewers into the movie.
As the movie progresses and audiences get glimpses and flash backs to the terror Katie escaped, plot twists are revealed and by the end things reveal themselves in surprising ways. 
Overall, it was a great “chick flick” but with the added suspense in the end made it a significant upgrade from the typical female-centered movie you might expect to see in a Lifetime Movie. Romantic thriller is the appropriate genre.
There were a couple of reactions to discoveries that seemed a bit unrealistic to me and I won’t share so not to give too much away. They seemed rushed. It could have had to do with editing for time. I would have to go back and read the book to see if it had a similar treatment. 
But other than that, I can say I went into this movie not really expecting to like it. I screened it alone, the day before Valentine’s day with my husband away on travel so I wasn’t in the mood for a romantic movie. But by the end, I was crying at some tear-jerking moments as the movie closed. *sniff* *sniff*  
I’m a movie snob and am very particular about minor things like cinematography, plot, story-line and character development, movie pacing and the like. So it says a lot when I recommend a movie. It would definitely be worthy the price of admission, which was what I was given by reps for the makers of the movie in consideration of this review. 
Go see it! Highly recommend! 
Check out the trailer below:

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