Marred Uplifting Romance
Release Date: February 14, 2013
Genre: Romantic Drama
Audience: Teenagers and adults
Runtime: 115 minutes
Distributor: Relativity Media
Director: Lasse Hallström
Writer: Dana Stevens
Address Comments To:Jesse A. Cohn
Ryan Kavanaugh, CEO, Relativity Media (Rogue Pictures/Overture Films)
8899 Beverly Blvd., Suite 510
Los Angeles, CA 90048
Phone: (310) 859-1250; Fax: (310) 859-1254
Based on a novel by Nicholas Sparks, the movie opens with a distraught woman running away from a house and hopping on a bus. A man’s arm can be seen lying on the floor in the house. (Later on, a flashback will show the woman carrying a bloody knife before leaving.) As the woman gets on the bus, a detective is hot on her trail, but he doesn’t see the bus she took.
On its way to Atlanta, the bus stops at a small seaside town in North Caroline called Southport. The blond-haired woman decides to stay in Southport. She gets a job as a waitress at a small seafood restaurant near the beach. She tells the owner her name is Katie.
Katie rents an isolated rundown cabin in the nearby woods. One day, she finds a young black-haired woman snooping in her windows. The woman introduces herself as Jo and tells Katie that she too has a quiet cabin nearby.
In the town, Katie is eventually drawn to Alex, the town’s widowed grocery store owner and his two young children, especially his cute daughter, Lexie. Jo encourages Katie to let down her guard, and Katie starts falling in love with Alex.
Meanwhile, the detective, Gavin, is still investigating Katie’s mysterious escape. He finally finds which bus she got on and realizes she’s dyed her hair blond and cut it short. So, he puts out a poster saying she’s wanted for murder.
Of course, things come to a head, and the truth about Katie’s past is revealed. The jeopardy increases a hundredfold for Katie. It threatens to destroy Alex and his family in its wake.
SAFE HAVEN is an excellently developed romance and mystery. The characters are well defined, and the performances by the two leads, Julianne Hough and Josh Duhamel, are appealing. Finally, the jeopardy in the third act is very suspenseful.
For the most part, SAFE HAVEN is a relatively clean movie. However, in the middle, there’s a sex scene between Katie and Alex. The movie implies that they’re fully naked under the covers as they passionately kiss one another. This sex scene isn’t crude, but it does show enough to be labeled a depicted sex scene rather than just an implied one.
The extramarital sex is strong enough to give the movie a mixed pagan worldview with strong Romantic elements. In the Romantic worldview created by Jean-Jacques Rousseau and others, traditional Christian, biblical values such as “no sex before marriage” and no adultery or polygamy are stifling rules meant to be broken repeatedly. If it weren’t for the sex scene in the middle of SAFE HAVEN, the movie would have a strong moral worldview, because, otherwise, the movie firmly extols positive values like taking care of children, protecting one’s family, being kind and caring, and finding true love to make a family. In fact, the scenes with Alex’s children are among the most delightful, heartwarming scenes in the entire movie.
The worldview in SAFE HAVEN is also mixed because [possible spoiler] the ghost of Alex’s wife turns out to have influenced some of the events in the plot. She also turns out to have played a role in influencing Alex and Katie to get together. This occult revelation doesn’t negate the story’s strong positive elements. However, when added to the extramarital sex scene, it makes the movie unacceptable viewing according to biblical standards of truth and goodness. SAFE HAVEN is not an abhorrent movie, but it does cross one too many lines.
SAFE HAVEN is an excellently developed romance and mystery. The characters are well defined, and the performances of the two leads are appealing. The ending is very suspenseful. Sadly, there’s a bedroom scene between Katie and Alex that reveals too much. The movie’s strong moral elements are also undercut by a revelation that the ghost of Alex’s wife has influenced some of the events and some of the two lovers’ actions. The combination of these negative elements makes SAFE HAVEN unacceptable.