Lina Lamont

"What do you think I am, dumb or something?"

Safe Haven

This review first appeared in the Sunday Star-Times, 17 February 2013

Author Nicholas Sparks is the John Grisham of romantic-drama, to thank/blame for film adaptations The Notebook, Dear John and The Lucky One (which was saved from banality only by Zac Efron’s innate charisma). Sensibly making himself a producer now, Sparks’ latest offering is a bit darker and twistier than previous tales.

Julianne Hough has improved immeasurably since the remake of Footloose, here playing a young woman on the run from the law. Following an exciting escape scene, she tips up in a small town and into the local store run by widowed father of two, Alex (Life As We Know It’s Josh Duhamel – undeniably handsome but awkward as a dad). As Hough’s Katie develops an affection for Alex and his kids, a policeman hunts her down. Will he find her? What did she do? What will Alex say?

Despite the secure feeling that it’ll all be OK in the end (Sparks isn’t here to upset his primarily female audience), there are a couple of neat twists that keep the tension mounting through the otherwise clichéd set-pieces of burgeoning love. And despite their perfect tans and superficial conversation, Hough and Duhamel have a high likeability quotient and just about convince as young lovers.

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