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Romantic dramas are a license to print money nowadays – but just because this comes from the man behind The Notebook, it doesn’t guarantee it’s any good, writes Gavin Miller.

I’ll admit to being a fan of the aforementioned film, but it did have a leading duo who could actually act – Safe Haven simply doesn’t.

Undoubtedly hunky Josh Duhamel and cute Julianne Hough make for pretty leads, but despite a late twist this is slow, schmaltzy, tediously monotonous fare, that never really gets going.

When mysterious young girl Katie (Hough) ends up in the sleepy North Caroline abode of Southport to escape her abusive husband, she alienates herself on the outskirts of town to start a new life. With only quite-annoying neighbour Jo (Cobie Smulders) for company, she slowly lets her guard down and eventually befriends widower and local store-owner Alex (Duhamel), and his two children.

But after being seemingly implicated in a homicide investigation that made her escape from Boston, a relentless police officer (David Lyons), will stop at nothing to trace his suspect – and turn her new world upside down.

The film’s also boringly padded-out with surprisingly plodding direction from experienced What’s Eating Gilbert Grape and Dear John helmer Lasse Hallstrom – and by the time the (maybe) shocking curveball takes place at the end, it doesn’t really resonate the way it should. By then, you don’t really care.

In fact, the movie that obviously should end quite sweetly actually ends up a little creepy.

If you want a real good romance, watch author Nicholas Sparks’ far-better The Notebook again, much safer bet than this soullessly cumbersome fare. Rating: 2/5