The Lake House
November 2, 2006
In an interesting bit of counter-programming and offering some relief from the glut of big, dumb summer action movies, The Lake House (2006) is a romantic movie for adults and is a reunion for Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock who, ironically, starred in the blockbuster action film, Speed (1994). Obviously, the powers that be hoped that lightning would strike twice as they had such genuine chemistry in that movie.
Dr. Kate Forster (Bullock) is starting a new job at a very busy hospital in Chicago. Alex Wyler (Reeves) is a successful architect who has recently moved into a house on a lake. He finds a letter from whom he assumes was the previous owner wishing him well and predicting something that hasn’t happened yet. It turns out that the previous occupant was Kate who has just moved out of the house in 2006 that Alex inhabits in 2004. Confused? Wait, there’s more.
Alex replies to her letter and she gets it and they begin corresponding despite the rules of time and space. As they continue to correspond with and get to know one another via handwritten letters deposited in the lake house’s mailbox, they invariably figure out that they exist in different years and try to plan a time and a place that they could finally meet each other in person. Logically, this movie is a mess but it is a testimony to the chemistry of Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves that this matters little towards the overall enjoyment of watching their romance play out.
Bullock has been spinning her wheels, career-wise, in the past few years with flawed dramas (Murder By Numbers) and forgettable comedies (did we really need a Miss Congeniality 2?) but has finally found the right material and the ideal role that showcases the same kind of attractive vulnerability that made the world fall in love with her in the first place. She has an enchanting smile that is beautiful to see. This enhances her character’s appealing personality and makes you care about her.
Reeves has definitely improved as an actor with age, delivering his most relaxed performance to date. He’s always come across as stiff in many of his roles with his best efforts when he plays a more reactive character (i.e. My Own Private Idaho). However, with Something’s Gotta Give (2003) he showed a capacity for light comedy in a much-needed break from the action and science fiction genres. The Lake House suits him well as he slips comfortably into his character.
Credit must also go to director Alejandro Agresti who utilizes a warm and inviting colour scheme of earth tones that is perfect for this movie as it envelopes you and draws you in. He also adopts a leisurely pace, gradually immersing us in this engaging world and taking its time in getting to know these characters.
In this day and age with email and instant messaging, it is refreshing to see a film that champions correspondence the old fashioned way – through handwritten letters. There is something more personal, more tangible than impersonal emails. Alex and Kate are lonely souls and in no time flat you want to see them together. This is a large part of the appeal of The Lake House. This is a romantic movie for our times with two busy professionals who are isolated in modern society and find each other through a bit of magic realism.
The key to any romantic movie is the chemistry between the two leads and Bullock and Reeves have it, recreating the same spark that they had together in Speed only now they are a little older and wiser. Both have matured as actors and are a perfect for this movie. So, ignore the daft logic that The Lake House struggles to maintain – it is merely a device for which to establish a connection between the two lead actors. Once this happens nothing else matters but the relationship that develops between these two intriguing characters.
“Additional Scenes and Outtakes” features more footage of Alex and Mona’s disintegrating relationship, including its inevitable demise. There are a few other bits that were rightly cut as they would have distracted from the main story.
Also included is a theatrical trailer.