Tuesday, January 14, 2014
Safe Haven: a story of multifaceted abuse
A young woman (Julianne Hough) runs out of her house after being shown in possession of a bloody knife and knocks on her neighbour's house for help.
She is shown moments later buying a bus ticket, her hair now cropped and bleached, rather in a hurry whilst maintaining her face hidden. Cops drop by at the bus station searching for her but luckily the bus she's in move for Atlanta first.
The bus stops at a small town called Southport, North Carolina. At the general store, she introduces herself as Katie. After hanging around for a while, she lets the bus leaves without her. Acquiring a job as a waitress and getting a small house on the edge of town, Katie becomes friends with her neighbor, Jo (Cobie Smulders) and meets Alex Wheatley, (Josh Duhamel), the manager of the convenience store, and his two children, Lexie (Mimi Kirkland) and Josh (Noah Lomax). Alex's wife tragically died of cancer a few years prior.
Alex immediately takes a liking to Katie, doing small helpful things, such as fixing an old bike to leave it at her house in the middle of the night. Always wary of strangers and still having nightmares about being found by the cops, Katie returns the bike to Alex.
However, after a talk with Jo, Katie feels sorry for being so abrupt and rather rude. She goes to see Alex and apologises, agreeing to accept the token of kindness.
Lexie immediately takes a liking to Katie who is sweet on her. When Katie cycles by, Lexie invites her to join a 'family' trip to the beach which she promptly accepts. They spend the day together and getting to know each other. Alex asks her to go canoeing with him, after which, they fall in love.
Lexie immediately accepts Katie, while Josh is initially resistant, believing Katie to be his late mother's replacement, but eventually accepts her as well.
Meanwhile, Kevin Tierney (David Lyons), a Boston police officer, searches for Katie and, using his authority as a police officer, sends out reports saying that she is a wanted murderer. Upon seeing her picture in the police station, Alex confronts Katie and becomes angry that she didn't trust him enough to even tell him her real name, Erin. The picture flashes to Kevin's boss confronting him at work, pointing out he always carries a water bottle that turns out to be filled with vodka, and as a result of Kevin putting Erin who's actually his own wife on the wanted list for a crime she didn't commit, he gets suspended and asked to surrender his badge.
After Alex tells her to leave, Katie is shown packing while talking angrily with Jo. Alex drives over to Katie's house to talk to her, only to discover that she left. He drives to the nearest ferry and admits he's fallen in love with her and promises to protect her no matter what. Initially, Katie wants to flee but then she decides to stay in Southport.
Later, Katie tells Alex that Kevin is her husband, whom she stabbed with a kitchen knife in order to protect herself from his drunken assault. It is revealed that he has been abusing her ever since that it makes her submissive enough to believe it is her fault all along.
Meanwhile, after finding that Katie does know someone in the neighbourhood, Kevin breaks into the neighbor`s home back in Boston and finds the phone number to the Southport restaurant that employs Katie. He finds the location and makes his way there, very noticeably drunk.
Arriving just on time for the Fourth of July parade, Kevin begins his search for Katie through the crowd, belligerent.
Kevin finally finds Katie dancing with Josh and watches as Alex leans over to kiss her, which makes him angry. However Kevin waits until Alex and Josh leave to light up the fireworks in a boat while Katie and Lexie stay alone at the store.
Later, as she falls asleep with Lexie, Katie has a dream that she is standing on the docks watching the fireworks when Jo comes up and tells Katie that "he" is here. Katie wakes up in the convenience store next to a fast asleep Lexie. While she is walking around in the store, Kevin makes his appearance and confronts her, drunk and sobbing and asking her to talk. He asks her to go back home with him, but she refuses and tells him to leave. He pulls out a revolver while Katie asks Lexie to stay up in the second floor of the store, scared that she might see Kevin and become frightened. Meanwhile, Kevin is pouring gasoline all over the store, with the intent to burn it down. He sits down on the steps with a lighter, deep in thought, and Katie fakes sympathy for him and agrees to return home with him, only to push him into the water by surprise. However, a firework spark lands on the gasoline, igniting a fire that spreads all over the store.
Alex, busy shooting off fireworks, sees the burning store and quickly makes his way across the lake by boat. He stands on the dock, pleading with Lexie to jump into his arms. After a brief hesitation, she finally does. Meanwhile, Katie is wrestling with a soaked Kevin who is attempting to shoot her. After a long struggle on the ground with Kevin holding the gun and Katie desperately trying to keep him from pointing it her head, she makes one last desperate grab at the gun and it goes off, killing Kevin. Soon after, Alex finds Katie and they embrace.
In the aftermath, Alex rifles through a desk, whose contents were spared from the fire, belonging to his late wife, where he finds multiple letters she prepared ahead of time for memorable events such as Josh's eighteenth birthday and Lexie's wedding day. Alex gives Katie a letter with the words "To Her" on the envelope. The letter talks about how if someone is receiving this letter, then Alex loves her without a shadow of a doubt. She says she is thankful for whoever is now reading the letter and thanks the reader for making Alex feel young and in love again.
The movie ends by revealing that Jo, who had supposedly left town moments before, was actually the ghost of Alex's dead wife.
This story reminds me of Enough, the one with Jennifer Lopez truly showing her mettle as an actress. it was about abusive husband too.
what i love most about this story is the way it tells a story, through flashbacks and relying on viewer's intellect to deduce what really happens. it's neat. though the way it explains Jo was kinda lazy. didn't the town people find it weird when Katie talks to Jo all over town?
the main theme that i want to highlight in this movie is the abuse Kevin is accounted for: drinking liquor concealed in plastic mineral water bottles (alcohol abuse), putting Katie on wanted list using his official means (power abuse) and assaulting his wife (domestic abuse). he's a wreck and yet his superior did not notice that until he crossed the line. which is not good because he works as a police officer, no less.
JH did a good job in this movie, don't you think? how she evolved from being an abused person into a confident woman. the way she reacts with Alex and his kids shows that she's basically a decent, nice person. am looking forward to viewing Footloose. she's reportedly a good dancer.
JD's acting chops are only tested moderately in this. don't get me wrong, he did just fine. being a frustrated father and all. though i wonder why on earth that no other woman in that town ever shows any romantic interest in him. he's dishy, respectful, kind and caring. plus, his kids are basically nice. i mean, come on!
MK did a good job in this one. i truly adore her. she's easy going, friendly and too lovable for words. a good child actress she is. NL is not bad either, being a sullen boy and all. it touches me regarding the letters Jo left her family. Cancer is bad, the way your family has to endure you dying day by day. but it also gives fortunate ones time to say goodbye, to atone for leaving loved ones behind. be practical, plan ahead, dearest, just like what Jo did, though i'm not saying that you'll come back as a helpful ghost :grin:
anyway, i think one of the important scenes to look out for (and remember if you were in Katie's shoes) is the one when Katie handles Kevin as he confronts her in the end. be firm and level. not excessively but enough. it might not work to turn him off completely but might be able to buy you some time to get help.
this is not a story of love, but rather of redemption. of second chance at life only you can give yourself.