Guest Author - Mystic Ransdell
Directed By: Lasse Hallstrom
Release Date: February 14, 2013
Run Time: 115 minutes
Written by Nicolas Sparks (The Notebook), Safe Haven is a story about a woman running from her past, heading into an unknown future.
That Katie (Julianne Hough) is in trouble is clear. The story opens with her doing everything she can to escape into the night with a cop (David Lyons) hot on her trail. Through brief flashbacks, we see that Katie has cut her hair short and lightened it from brown to blonde to disguise herself. We also see that whatever she is running from, it involved a bloody knife in her hand. She is clearly terrified, afraid of getting caught, and relieved when the bus she boards drives safely away, heading to Atlanta, Georgia.
Katie lands in the beautiful and sleepy little fishing village of Southport, North Carolina and it seems like the perfect place to hide. She gets a cabin on the outskirts of town, isolated in the woods. Whenever she is around the people in the town, she is cautious and watchful, even after landing a job in a local restaurant. When the police come in one day, Katie quickly hides - until she realizes they aren't looking for her, only for their carry-out lunch order.
The first person that Katie truly begins to let her guard down with is Lexie (played by the adorable Mimi Kirkland), the young daughter of the man who owns the local store. Lexie might be small, but she is smart and capable and completely steals the show in every scene she is in. Katie soon learns that Lexie's father, Alex (Josh Duhamel) is a widower, whose wife died of cancer. He also has a son, Josh (Noah Lomax), a sad and angry young man who was old enough to remember his mother and misses her very much.
Despite her desire to keep to herself as much as possible, Katie makes a friend, a lovely and charming woman named Jo who chooses to live on the outskirts of town too, for her own personal reasons. They seem to sense that they are kindred spirits and form a bond, and Jo is the first person Katie allows into her home - the first person she truly begins to open up to. Jo encourages Katie to relax into her new life and is supportive when it becomes apparent that there is a relationship slowly blossoming between she and Alex.
But the cop that she was running from persists in his search for her. He manages to narrow down the area she might be in and sends out notices to all the police stations, letting them know that she is wanted in connection with first degree murder. The notice is hung on the bulletin board in the local precinct but the cops don't pay much attention. Unfortunately, Alex does see it, and angrily confronts Katie. He tells her that he can't believe anything she says and suggests that she get out of town right away. It appears that Katie's past has caught up with her after all, but where will she go from here?
I will admit that I was surprised by this movie. I had certain expectations based on the previews I had seen. I knew Josh was a widower and I knew Katie had a mysterious past. Going into it, I really didn't know if she had killed someone in self-defense or if the man she was running from was actually the cop that was chasing her. I was pretty certain that it was a "battered wife trying for a new life" kind of story, though.
But there was so much more to this lovely movie. The performances were wonderful and the characters were endearing and easy to care about. I really felt for the people involved, and I particularly wanted to just steal that little girl away and adopt her for my own. There were some lovely twists and turns, genuine edge-of-your-seat thrills, and moments that touched me and made me cry. I expected to like the movie. I did not necessarily expect to love it - but I did.
Keep a box of tissues handy for this one. You'll thank me later.
(I was not paid to endorse this movie in any way. I watched it, streaming, through my Netflix account, which I subscribe to. My thoughts and feelings about it are my own.)
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