18th October 2017

Reading Response #4

  • Title: Safe Haven
  • Text type: Film
  • Director: Lasse Hallstrom

The film “Safe Haven,” directed by Lasse Hallstrom, is based on the Nicolas Spark’s novel of the same title. It is a romantic drama, revolving around the life of Erin Tierney who was on the run from her abusive, police officer, husband. Tierney escaped from Boston and fled to the small town of Southport, New Carolina, where the newly blonde victim introduced herself as “Katie Feldman.” “Safe Haven” follows Katie as she recovers from her defamatory pass, learning to trust and love again, while also trying to stay off the radar so as to avoid her alcoholic spouse.

Early in the film, we meet Alex, a single, widowed father of two young children. Alex runs the main store in the little town and their chemistry is instant although it takes time for Katie to be able to open up to him. Under the guidance of her friend Jo, both Alex and Kate rediscover love with each other and their relationship blossoms until Alex uncovers Katie’s past, and Katie’s husband uncovers Katie. The story focuses on how trauma can be overcome with time and love. We learn that despite Katie’s troubles, people like Jo, Alex, and his family, can reverse bad experiences. This is demonstrated when Alex gifts Katie a bike to help her get into town. Initially, Katie gets mad, she doesn’t feel the need for intervention from others and is satisfied with her own company and support, however, Jo convinces her that it is a gesture of goodwill and that despite her overreaction, “life is full of second chances.” Katie fell in love with Jo, Alex, and his family, and they fell right back in love with her; we understand that this love softened Katie and defeated the demons she was trying to escape. The title of the film “Safe Haven” refers to the feeling of “safety” Katies longs for, and how she finds it in the physical location of Southport, as well as the metaphorical “safe haven” she becomes a part of with Alex and his family. The name is tied into the film when Alex says to Katie: “And if you stay, I promise you there’s no safer place in the world than right here with me.”

In spite of it being a cliche that is often-heard, “Safe Haven” teaches us that love, whether it is romantic or friendly, can overcome hate in each of its forms. We must all widen our circle of family, and care for one another as if we were related, in order to eliminate hate in the world. This relates to me as within my mother’s charity work she often references the Swahili philosophy of “Ubuntu,” meaning: “we are all one.” I have been raised with empathy and compassion, taught to treat everyone how I like to be treated. It is important for movies to continue to express the results of kindness as without the constant reminders that other’s happiness is a repercussion of caring, the art of giving could die out completely. Through the character of Katie, we see that without the simple acts of affection from the people she met, her life could have turned out very differently.

Another lesson learned through watching “Safe Haven” is the concept that first impressions can be misleading. This is indicated a number of times throughout the film, but firstly, through the character of Katie’s husband. We understand through Katie’s dreams and flashbacks that her husband, Kevin, was an irate alcoholic who took his anger out on Katie, verbally but also physically. However, by day Kevin was a detective, a man with a badge, “protecting” the community. If anyone was to meet Kevin under normal circumstances, they would think it ridiculous to imagine that he could be capable of serving justice while physically abusing his wife. This teaches us an important lesson to never make assumptions.

The same lesson, although not as cynical, is portrayed through Katie. On both of her first encounters with Alex and Jo, she was aloof and never spoke more than what was required. In fact, she could come across as rude, barely engaging in conversation. However, it did not take much for the walls Katie had built up to come back down. Jo asked to walk home with Katie and after that small gesture of kindness, they became friends, hanging out at one another’s houses. Once it had been shown to Katie that people cared, her true personality shone through and she became happy, bubbly and alive.

The final example in “Safe Haven” which proves that we can never judge a book by its cover is the character of Jo. Initially, we view her as creepy due to our first introduction to her being when Katie finds her “snooping” in her windows, yet, as time continues, we begin to like Jo. She acts like Katie’s guardian angel, often pointing her in the right direction, and even coming to her in a dream to warn her that Kevin was nearby. It is not until the last scene when we are made aware that Jo is, in fact, Alex’s dead wife, a ghost who could not leave Southport until her family was “whole again.” Jo was selfless, she helped her husband and Katie come together in order to provide them, along with her children, with happiness. This action released her of her duties and she was able to move on whilst always being a part of the family through Katie. In a sense, Jo’s character is relatable to my life as my grandmother died two years ago and I regularly wish I had more time with her, however, she was a very spiritual woman and I am often reassured by the feeling that she is always close-by, watching out for me.

“Safe Haven” was full of cliches, a typical romantic drama that, albeit the twist of Jo’s identity, was rather predictable. Despite this, it is essential to have movies that follow this orthodox storyline as these “feel-good” films still incorporate necessary life-lessons, while providing viewers with entertainment. “Safe Haven” touches on an intense topic but smothers the evil with enough good characters that viewers still reach the end smiling. It had the right combination of drama, love, and light-heartedness. As a result, I enjoyed “Safe Haven” and the emotional roller coaster it took me on.

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