The twisted, dark romantic novel Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks is a stark contrast against the cheesy movie adaptation.
As an avid Nicholas Sparks reader, I was sorely disappointed with the movie Safe Haven because there are several components that did not match up with the book.
Lasse Hallström, director, did not fairly cast the characters of Safe Haven. Julianne Hough (Katie) was far too cheery to portray a nervous abuse victim on the run, and Josh Duhamel (Alex) looked too young to be a father “graying at the temples”.
Mimi Kirkland (Lexie), a young Raleigh actress, commanded attention in her cute and believable performance as the daughter of Duhamel’s character.
However, Kirkland could not save Safe Haven from the distracting dissimilarities of the movie in comparison to the book.
Firstly, Katie was not originally brunette; she was blond and wore a brown wig while running away, not the other way around. Another distracting difference was the lack of flashbacks replaced by odd cutaways, causing the story to have an unusual progression. These set the false idea that Katie stabbed and murdered her husband.
The movie is dramatic and romantic, but by no means as violent or graphic as the novel.
I do not condone the excessive violence or domestic abuse in the book, but taking that away from the movie adaptation makes for a lackluster and inauthentic portrayal of Katie’s circumstances. The movie dramatizes Katie running away from her abusive husband as the act of strength relieving her from a terrifying situation.
I don’t think it was a fair or accurate depiction of survivors of domestic abuse because no one would be as relaxed and suddenly at ease in a new environment coming out of an oppressive one.
The movie is flawed because it focuses more on Katie falling in love despite a difficult past instead of making her an empowered woman who happens to fall in love while struggling with the psychological aftermath of being abused. Hough’s portrayal sucks the power and depth out of Katie’s character; her nervous personality and raw characteristics of strength replaced by an actress who comes off as the bubbly and naïve.
I recommend that Safe Haven readers approach the movie with an open mind, because it will not live up to the novel. Those without prior knowledge of the story, however, will enjoy the movie more because they won’t have something to compare it to.