Safe Haven

Kaela Mason

For those of you who are fans of Nicholas Sparks like I am, you have probably been awaiting the latest movie based on one of his books, Safe Haven. The film was released on Valentine’s Day in hopes of attracting the couples who like to celebrate the holiday by going out to see the latest chick-flick. Safe Haven has continued to rake in viewers this weekend, remaining in the top ranks of the box office since its release, second only to the newest Die Hard installment.

AP Photo

The movie starts off in Boston, Mass., with a young girl, Katie, hurriedly boarding a bus to Atlanta, seemingly trying to escape a police officer. When the bus makes a short stop in North Carolina, Katie decides to stay instead of continuing her trip to Atlanta. For those of you familiar with Sparks’ work, you are probably not at all surprised that the story would at some point end up in North Carolina. Sparks is notorious for basing all of his stories in his home state.

In order to keep low-key, Katie rents a small house in the woods in walking distance to the small town of Southport. It is here that she gets a job as a waitress. Although she tries to keep to herself, she makes friends with a local woman named Jo, and begins to date Alex, a widower and father of two young kids. It is with the help of her new friends that Katie slowly begins to forget what happened in her past, and is able to start fresh.

Towards the end of the film, the audience learns that the cop that Katie was running from in the beginning is actually her abusive husband. During a promotional interview before the release, Julianne Hough (Katie) admitted that one of the reasons she was so drawn to this film was because as a young girl, she too was abused both mentally and physically. In the scene in the film when Katie finally reveals the details of her past to Alex, most of that footage is actually Julianne telling her story to Josh Duhamel (Alex). With over two hours of footage of the two talking, Julianne said it was deepest she had ever gone into her past, and that it was the most therapeutic thing she’d ever experienced.

The truth behind Julianne’s story made her portrayal of a battered woman all that more real. Although the movie didn’t reach the expectations I had after reading the book, I believe Julianne’s performance took the movie to another level (and as usually happens with Sparks’ stories, had me crying by the end). I recommend this film to all lovers of chick-flicks, especially those of the Nicholas Sparks kind.

And for the first time ever, I recommend not reading the book before seeing the film. This way, you will be able to appreciate the film as a totally separate entity…but definitely go read the book after because it’s really good!