Film review: Safe Haven (12A)


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The Independent Culture

Another week, another Nicholas Sparks romance to swell the morass of tranquillising mush (Message in a Bottle, The Notebook, The Lucky One) he turns out by the yard.

This one stars Julianne Hough as a young woman fleeing a crime scene and catching a bus out of town, with a police detective (David Lyons) in obsessive pursuit. She fetches up in an idyllic backwater on the North Carolina coast, where she rents a picture-book cabin in the woods and attracts the interest of a hunky widower (Josh Duhamel). Can she bond with his two young kids and help him find love again?

Director Lasse Hallström favours dappled light and bucolic loveliness better suited to a tampon commercial than a plausible drama, and he smothers everything in emollient country tunes that declare "everything will be OK", even when peril is heading towards the heroine in the shape of a furious alcoholic ex-husband. This one even throws a bit of supernatural twaddle into the mix, as if it needed anything else to undermine its credibility.