2012 / Director. Lasse Hallström.
Nicholas Sparks movie adaptations amount to little more than trashy melodrama. They're a modern Mills & Boone type of romance, which blatantly manipulates the audience. I've seen all of the films based on his books and I've even liked a couple (Message in a Bottle, A Walk to Remember) but for the most part they're a brand of romance that doesn't resonate with me at all. I prefer romantic films to be less superficial (Remains of the Day, Shadowlands etc)... the newest film is Safe Haven, which tells the story of a woman on the run from the police. She ends up in a small seaside town where she begins a new life for herself. Naturally she meets and falls in love with a local widower. The film is disappointing for so many reasons. I was willing to ignore the movie's shortcomings until they started becoming so boldly terrible that I had to switch modes. I won't blurt out any spoilers but I will say that the finale is one of the most absurd, ludicrous and hilarious turns I've ever seen a film take. I thought surely the book must have ben subtler in it's revelation but upon finding excerpts online, I discovered that it's just as woeful. And then there's the lead actress, Julianne Hough, who is only 24 years old. She's far too young to convincingly sell a character with such a history. She's unlikable and I really couldn't care less for her predicament. Josh Dahmahel, on the other hand, is wonderful as her love interest. He's the strongest part of the movie. I am astonished that this is what director Lasse Hallström's career has come to. Once a revered filmmaker of respected films like Whats Eating Gilbert Grape, The Shipping News and The Cider House Rules... he is now stuck in Sparksville... and losing his cred fast. So far he's made two of these adaptations (the other was Dear John) and thankfully he's made a couple of half-decent movies in between... but if he pumps out another Nicholas Sparks movie I'm afraid it might be the end of the road for me as a fan. Safe Haven is pretty bad.