2013 Certificate: 12


A mysterious woman (Julianne Hough) flees pursuing cops in a rain-swept Boston and winds up hopping off a bus in the relaxed North Carolina resort of Southport. There she meets hunky widowed grocer Alex (Josh Duhamel)... and a tentative romance develops. However, just when she thinks she can kick back, her dark past comes a-calling. Swedish director Lasse Hallström reteams with writer Nicholas Sparks (Dear John) for another glossy romance-come-thriller.


  • Lasse Hallström


  • Julianne Hough

  • Josh Duhamel

  • Cobie Smulders

  • David Lyons

  • Mimi Kirkland

  • Noah Lomax


Glutinous romantic novelist Nicholas Sparks appears to have wearied with his usual life-changing conditions - cancer, Alzheimer's, depression, more cancer - and is gambling with something new.

A murder rap.

Yes, his latest heroine - clean-limbed clogger Katie (Hough) - has fled incognito from rainy Boston and its homicide police to the dozy, sun-kissed North Carolina beach town of Southport.

We don't know exactly who she's killed...but her mugshot is soon being faxed across the country.

Meanwhile, she rents a gorgeously distressed "fixer-upper" cabin in the woods, lands a waitressing job at a local fish restaurant and gets the glad eye from ripped widower Alex (Duhamel).

However, their slowburning romance - canoe trips in downpours, candlelit waltzes in deserted diners, making sandcastles on the beach with his adorable kiddiwinks - comes crashing to a halt when Alex spots her wanted poster in the local nick. Well, it would.

There's no denying that director Lasse Hallström's second Sparks adaptation after Dear John initially intrigues with a genune question mark hanging over Katie's apparent femme fatale.

However, when the tentative romance slips into thriller territory we're firmly into guilty pleasure land as Kate's drink-sodden cop hubbie pitches up, swigging from a water bottle containing vodka as the lovey-dovey narrative lurches into Cape Fear.

It's compelling stuff, for all the wrong reasons. and reaches a barking apex of doolally tapness when one of the minor characters reveals herself to be a charitable ghost.