February 14, 2013

Movie Preview: 'Safe Haven'

Taking the audience's emotions for a ride on a roller coaster is Nicholas Sparks' apparently-can't-miss formula. Next up: 'Safe Haven.'

By COLIN COVERT McClatchy Newspapers

(Continued from page 1)

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Julianne Hough plays a mysterious new arrival in a small North Carolina town, and Josh Duhamel is a local store owner still grieving the loss of his wife in “Safe Haven.”

Relativity Media

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Nicholas Sparks wants his characters to “feel absolutely real. Characters that are flawed, because everyone is, yet self-aware enough to know their flaws and to try to get better.”

Courtesy photo


"SAFE HAVEN," starring Julianne Hough and Josh Duhamel. Directed by Lasse Hallstrom. Rated PG-13 for thematic material involving threatening behavior, and for violence and sexuality. Running time: 1:55

The film dealt Hough, whose background is in dance, plenty of acting challenges, including an eyebrow-raising final revelation worthy of "The X-Files."

"That actually came easy for me because I grew up very religious and spiritual. There's something so beautiful about that moment in the book and the movie. It makes me cry."

What came harder was to play a person who is mysterious and guarded. "It wasn't easy to have my walls up and yet be accessible and likable and relatable so that we could have a relationship."

Sparks, who also produced the film, takes an active, hands-on, even argumentative role, he said. He decides who gets cast (he favors new actresses like Hough, having had good luck with Rachel McAdams) and who will direct (he had a good experience with Hallstrom on their earlier collaboration, "Dear John"). When shooting commences, he backs off. "You don't tell Josh, Julianne or Lasse how to do their jobs. That's why you hired them."

Hallstrom followed the same philosophy with his performers, Duhamel said. "I never felt so trusted. He would listen to ideas, incorporate suggestions we made. What I love about his movies, like 'My Life as a Dog,' are these little slices of life that don't necessarily move the movie forward but everybody can understand. We found an everyday thing for my character to deal with. The door to his store sticks, and he never gets around to fixing it. It's not pivotal to the story, but everybody can relate to who that guy is."

A guy who's a good candidate for some tender loving care, Nicholas Sparks style.


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