Film review: The Lake House (2006), directed by Alejandro Agresti
A romantic drama that isn’t in chronological order and where your disbelief doesn’t so much need suspension, but rather a restraining order. To accuse it of being predictable and far-fetched would be … stating the bleedin’ obvious.
Doctor Kate Forster (Sandra Bullock) lives with her dog in a pretty lake house. She moves out, leaving a note to the next tenant in the mailbox. The tenant in question, architect Alex Wyler (Keanu Reeves), gets the letter and responds to it. Problem is, he isn’t the next tenant – he’s the previous one.
Guess what? Kate is actually in 2006, corresponding with Alex, who is in 2003/2004. It turns into a sort of long distance relationship, but the problem is, of course, that the distance isn’t measured in miles or kilometres, but in years, and a lot can happen in two of those.
The Lake House is a tricky movie to write about. On the one hand, it’s a fascinating and very romantic concept and on the other, the film could have been a lot better, and it certainly is a mammoth task to keep your disbelief in check. In fact, it would be so much easier to completely slate the whole thing, but the problem is I sort of enjoyed it even though it has massive issues.
Let’s start with the acting. I love Sandra Bullock, but she didn’t seem to shine. Keanu Reeves was too bland, and too … wooden, I suppose. Then again, that’s what most people tend to say about him anyway, but I don’t have an issue with him normally. In fact, in Something’s Gotta Give, he’s actually delightful! Dylan Walsh has the thankless task of portraying Morgan, Kate’s boyfriend two years ago, who has to put up with his girlfriend kissing random strangers at the birthday party that he organised for her. He does a pretty good job, though.
The story itself is where the problem lies. You can guess what happened or is going to happen, especially when you start realising the timings of things, and how it all came about in the first place, and that’s not an issue as such … until you realise the humongous time paradox it creates, which ruins the whole thing, making it come down like a house of cards. Unless you’re a Time Lord with a paradox-eating TARDIS, or a certified ChronoGuard agent, don’t screw about with time.
And this is beside the point that Kate moves out and writes to Alex who moves in two years before, and that they communicate by leaving letters in the mailbox at the lake house. Kate wrote the letter and placed it there for the next tenant, this makes sense, but Alex responds by … not using the forwarding address specified in Kate’s letter, but rather, by placing his response in his own mailbox. Why would she come back to check it? Yes, we know she does come back, and why, but that was certainly no guarantee. If someone writes to me, I don’t go putting the reply in my own letter box, hoping the recpient will happen to pop by and happen to trespass by looking in a letter box that isn’t theirs any more, and happen to see a letter addressed to them.
And then the sections where they read their replies aloud, as if they were having a conversation rather than corresponding through time portal letter box, was cheesy, to say the least. I’ve certainly never had handwritten letters to and fro read like an IM conversation!
I also couldn’t tell Kate’s mum and Kate’s doctor friend apart. Both are older ladies with dark hair and husky voices in a foreign accent, so at first, I thought Kate’s mum was a doctor working at the same hospital. Umm, apparently not.
On the plus side, they put Jane Austen’s Persuasion to good use, and the story, however ridiculously impossible, was really romantic. At the end, I was so close to exclaiming “WORST. ENDING. EVER!!” … except then there was that time paradox, and instead, I was left with a smile and that lovely, warm feeling that a good romance should leave you with. Which, in turn, means that even if The Lake House was kind of slow, confusing, the “maple” tree looked incredibly fake, and Disbelief sat on my shoulder tutting and shaking its head vigorously (when it wasn’t rolling its eyes) throughout, I did actually rather like it.
Also, even if he’s about as credible as a plank of wood, Mr. Reeves does look good in brown and he does have those dark, dark eyes and has that whole tall, dark and handsome thing going on … and I totally have a girl crush on Sandra Bullock. Ohh, and Christopher Plummer dazzled in the brief time we saw him as Alex’s dad. Still has a killer smile after all these years. So … I think that means The Lake House can still come out with a decent 3 out of 5 paw prints. It’s Christmas soon, after all.