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Overall Rating
3.39

Awesome: 24.68%
Worth A Look: 24.68%
Average27.27%
Pretty Bad: 11.69%
Total Crap: 11.69%

7 reviews, 35 user ratings



Lake House, The
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by Peter Sobczynski

"Making Love the Donnie Darko Way"
1 stars

The premise of the romantic fantasy “The Lake House”–two people from two different time periods find themselves communicating and falling in love with each other via notes sent through an enchanted mailbox–is so convoluted and goofy that anyone planning on watching the film has to silently agree to just accept it from the outset if the story is to work at all. The problem is that the two main character seem to have taken the same approach and seem far too ready to casually accept events that any sane person would find both astonishing and theoretically impossible. As a result, we get the maddening sight of a couple of whiny mopes droning on about their personal problems while the time-space continuum surrounding them is violated so frequently and to such a degree that even the most ardent “Donnie Darko” fans are liable to throw up their hands in confusion. Look, I know that love can make one lose track of what is going on around them but these two are so oblivious that you fear for their lives every time you see them step out into traffic.

Sandra Bullock stars as Kate Forster, a lonely doctor who, as the film opens, is moving out of the extravagant lakeside house that she shares with her dog (and no one else–sob!) in order to move back to Chicago to work in a hospital. Before leaving, she places a note for the new tenant in the mailbox that mentions pawprints on a walkway and a mysterious box up in the attic. When that new tenant, hunky architect Alex Burnham (Keanu Reeves), reads the note, he is understandably confused--there are no pawprints on the walkway nor is there a box in the attic–and writes that she may have put the note in the wrong mailbox. No sooner has he done that, however, than a strange dog runs through some paint and–voila–leaves pawprints on the walkway. Other strange things begin to occur–Alex drives into the city to drop off her mail at the address she left and finds only a building under construction–and before long, the two begin to realize that Kate is living in 2006 while Alex is living in 2004.

This is an extraordinary development and I daresay that if it occurred to you or I or any sentient life form, there would be millions of questions to be asked. How is this possible? What happens to all the regular incoming mail–is Kate receiving Alex’s cable bill and vice-versa? What would happen if one of them tried to e-mail the other? And yet, neither they nor any of their friends or loved one seem particularly astounded or even curious about any of this (when Kate explains it to her mother, she just shrugs it off with “The time thing–it’s just a detail.”) Instead, Kate and Alex, realizing that they are kindred spirits–both have unresolved daddy issues (hers is dead and his is a legendary architect played by Christopher Plummer), both are dating people who just don’t seem right for them and neither seems particularly stunned that time seems to have shifted from a line to a rhombus–and begin to exchange love letters while pondering a way to defeat their common paradox so that they can be together without him showing up for every movie they go to see two years late.

Almost as determined in their efforts to overcome the paradox are director Alejandro Agretsi and screenwriter David Auburn–they know that if they can’t figure out a way to get Reeves and Bullock into the same scene together throughout despite the two-year lag time, the mall audiences that demand instant gratification will quickly grow restless and angry. Therefore, they keep coming up with different ways to put them together in various scenes but they always feel like cheats. For starters, we seem them literally having conversations via letter in which both are sitting in the same location and we are supposed to be imagining that he is in 2004 and she is in 2006–instead, we are too busy trying to figure out how they can be having such a conversation–complete with interruptions, quick responses and asides–when they are supposed to be writing out their words and then placing them in a mailbox. Later, we are treated to a bizarre sequence, set in 2004, in which Alex meets perfect stranger Morgan Price (Dylan Walsh) on the street and is invited to a birthday party for the guy’s girlfriend–Kate. This seems to have been stuck in so that a.) we can see the two kiss and b.) we can see that Morgan just isn’t the right guy for Kate, even though we already know that there is no way that a movie such as this could ever possibly end with Sandra Bullock in the arms of someone named Morgan Price. Between these tricks and the others that we see (Keanu plants a tree in his time that magically appears to give Kate shelter in hers), the delicate fabric of time is so thoroughly ripped, rent and torn asunder that by the end, I was expecting the precious lake house to be attacked by dinosaurs and an oddly coiffed Ben Kingsley. (I don’t know whether such scenes appeared in “Il Mare,” the 2000 South Korean film that “The Lake House” is a remake of, but I am willing to bet that either they didn’t or that they were handled with a little more subtlety than they have been here.)

Even though Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock demonstrated a lot of nice on-screen chemistry together in their previous film together, the action spectacular “Speed,” both come off here like a couple of mopey blanks. On their own, neither one is particularly interesting and their scenes together don’t provide the kind of instant spark that a gooey romance like this needs to survive–when it looks as if Alex has stood Kate up on a date (don’t ask), it doesn’t provoke any emotional response and when we learn why he missed that date (again, don’t ask), a moment that should be heart-rending comes off as shoulder-shrugging. (Another problem with the latter is that it is telegraphed so early and blatantly that when the shocking surprise is revealed, it comes as anything but.) Perhaps realizing that the leads were a couple of wet squibs, Agretsi has at least done us the favor of casting a couple of engaging performers for the key supporting roles. Shoreh Aghdashloo gets a few good moments as Kate’s co-worker in the hospital and shows enough personality that you wish that it was her mailbox that was getting all the action. And while I would be hard-pressed to claim that Plummer’s work was “good” in the conventional sense–he seems to have settled into a career path playing aging grumps in a scenery-chewing manner not seen since the late-period work of Laurence Olivier–but his blowhard manner at least brings a little life to a film sorely in need of it.

Admittedly, “The Lake House” is not a film for all audiences–it is aimed at the kind of swooning romantics who made films such similar titles as “Somewhere in Time” and “The Notebook” into surprise hits while cynical viewers need not apply. The former will accept all the flaws because it lets them fantasize that most perfect type of romance–the kind where the ideal person is never able to show up in the flesh and possibly screw up the romantic illusion–while the cynic will snicker in his seat while jotting down all the plot inconsistencies (such as questions about how two people in two different times somehow wind up with the same dog) in order to mock them later. If you are the former type, feel free to ignore everything that I have written. If not, you will probably walk out of the theater thinking the same thing that I did–that anyone living in 2006 Chicago who doesn’t suggest that the 2004 guy put a few dollars on the White Sox in 2005 is kind of a bitch.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=14719&reviewer=389
originally posted: 06/16/06 14:18:23
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User Comments

8/19/13 PAUL SHORTT CONVOLUTED ROMANTIC DRAMA, WITH MUFFLED PERFORMANCES 2 stars
2/13/11 hbotis confused even after second viewing but this is one hidden movie classic- a beauty 5 stars
1/13/10 steve this guy needed kleenex at the end of this one 5 stars
10/05/09 the dork knight Keanu's Zen-like calm never wavers. Good cameo by Plummer 3 stars
12/23/08 Charlene Such a charming movie and Keanu/Sandra were perfect. Jack is adorable! 4 stars
10/31/08 Shaun Wallner Great story! 3 stars
9/18/08 Abi what a romantic and beautiful story! - belief is forever - no border of time 5 stars
1/26/08 Pamela White Could have used a little help with the plot timing 3 stars
8/13/07 Annonomiss Suspend your disbelief and go see this one! Timetravel supernatural elements-intriquing. 4 stars
8/05/07 Cherish Forget about the logic. It's a romantic fantasy and I love it. Love Keanu and Sandra. 5 stars
7/07/07 AnnieG Much much better than I expected from reviews! 3 stars
5/17/07 ES ooo the magic mailbox, sorry not feeling it 2 stars
4/26/07 marshall The quest for & belief in "the one" is a reality. Minus the causality issue, i can relate. 5 stars
4/04/07 Shinde Wonderful movie, made me on the edge of my seat the whole time. 4 stars
1/26/07 alice U liked it, just average but liked it. 3 stars
12/29/06 Kimberly I thought this was a boring movie also. I was very upset with this movie 2 stars
12/18/06 Mockingbird I've lost all respect for you EricDSnider, no wonder you had to see the movie with your sis 1 stars
12/07/06 JULES get confused trying to connect every scenario,(& yes the fakest sneeze ever) but romantic.. 4 stars
11/04/06 marlee i loved this movie. it was beautiful 5 stars
11/02/06 Irina i've watched it 4 times over the last 2 days! 5 stars
10/12/06 Danny OMG, how boring! 2 good actors totally wasted. I found it hard to stay awake. 1 stars
10/12/06 Megan What is the book she reads in the movie? 3 stars
10/03/06 MONICA A NICE LOVE STORY WITH A GOOD ENDING 5 stars
9/30/06 thaMASTAH The movie was okay. It could've been better though. 3 stars
9/25/06 christine mae its so very nice!!!!cge lng ug kisskiss 3 stars
9/07/06 Stephanie Throckmorton Wildly bizarre for little other reason than making feelgood end more refreshing than cliche 3 stars
8/01/06 kaz beautiful and moving.. 5 stars
7/21/06 jcjs inane, yet for 'dreamers' speaking to the core of 'love' , 'beauty' , 'significance', 'art' 5 stars
6/24/06 JUDE ll also be a great video to watch in yor bathrobe 4 stars
6/23/06 barbara a great oldfashioned capra type - have keanu and sandy play in a remake of random harvest 4 stars
6/23/06 docmoreau I am not an objective film reviewer. This film was shot in and around Chicago, my hometown 5 stars
6/22/06 kathy kaufman lovely movie; gentle and evenly paced, with a fun mystery to it. enjoyed the soundtrack 4 stars
6/20/06 NH It works for me! 5 stars
6/20/06 Debbie Borders Loved It!! 5 stars
6/17/06 bobbi The movie goer's conversation in the seat next to me was more interesting than this movie 1 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  16-Jun-2006 (PG)
  DVD: 26-Sep-2006

UK
  23-Jun-2006

Australia
  27-Jul-2006




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