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Overall Rating

Awesome: 25.64%
Worth A Look: 24.36%
Pretty Bad: 11.54%
Total Crap: 11.54%

7 reviews, 36 user ratings

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Lake House, The
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by Collin Souter

"Save your questions for Doc Brown. This movie is not about time travel."
4 stars

Itís amazing how often we miss our chances. Itís tragic how often we donít see whatís in front of us. Itís unfortunate that we donít get to see what might have been if we had altered our perceptions just a tiny little bit when making drastic life decisions. Itís all a big cosmic joke and yet we still sit around and idly question what led us to where we are. Would my life be different now if I had shown up at the hospital like I said I was going to? Did I purposely blow it at the job interview? Should I have stuck with my plan of moving out in 2006? If I had the nerve to ask that girl out a few weeks ago, would I have watched this movie with her today instead of seeing it by myself? Iíll never know and most likely Iíll never have some bizarre cosmic opportunity to find out.

But thatís okay. I can continue to live my life and continue making choices as I see fit to make them. The great thing about a movie like The Lake House is that it makes you ask these kinds of questions, but without making you crazy. The two main characters are given an opportunity to help each other understand their past, their present and their future. In a way, the movie reminds me of Groundhog Day. Nothing ever explains why such magic realism is taking place and nothing ever has to. Itís what the characters gain from the experience that counts. The premise of the movie takes a back seat to the bigger questions that get asked within the narrative.

The Lake House takes place in 2004 and 2006. In 2004, architect Alex Wyler (Keanu Reeves) has bought a house by the lake in Chicago that his father designed. He gets a letter in his mailbox from Kate Forster (Sandra Bullock), a doctor who just moved out of that same houseÖin 2006. The letter is dated as such. She receives letters in the mailbox in her time period and he receives letters in his mailbox in his time period. The flag on the mailbox goes up and down, signifying that a new letter is awaiting them.

Confusing? It can be, but only if you decide to think about it too much. Alex and Kate become cosmic pen-pals and eventually develop a relationship based on their letters to each other. At first, they believe theyíre each pulling some kind of prank on one another, until finally Alex asks ďCan this really be happening?Ē to which she replies ďWhy not?Ē Soon, they each make gestures that prove theyíre in on something so profound and unexplainable that the best thing for them would be to accept it, make the most of it and try to conquer it by somehow meeting one another at a certain place and time in 2006.

But how do they know they donít have a past already? Because their present intrudes on their ability to put the pieces together (if, in fact, they do fit). Alex and his brother Henry (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) are currently dealing with the ailing health of their father, Simon (Christopher Plummer), himself a cold, egocentric architect who harbors some deeply hidden despair over the loss of his wife. Meanwhile, Kate has to deal with the sudden re-emergence of her former fiancť, Morgan (Dylan Walsh), with whom her relationship dissolved after a strange incident in their backyard. In a lesser movie, these secondary relationships would have been treated as mere plot points, but instead they lend a great deal of depth to both characters. As Alex and Kate continue to write each other, their relationship deepens and their love grows.

I realize how cheesy some of this sounds and that a relationship based on written letters is a naÔve notion. Is it? I donít believe so. Some of my closest friendships have been built through email and the written word and the movie understands this without being cynical about it. In fact, director Alejandro Agresti and screenwriter David Auburn (Proof) reinforce the power of this means of communication by having Alex and Kate speak to each other as though they really are in the same room. Itís a narrative device that could have sunk the movie, but it works beautifully. After all, why have long drawn-out voice-overs of these two reading their long, drawn-out letters to each other when you can condense it into dialogue not unlike an IM chat?

So many things could have gone wrong here, but miraculously hardly anything ever does. The time travel storyline could have driven me nuts with its paradoxes, but I found myself ignoring them. In the hands of a more conventional director, the material here would likely have been over-shmaltzed. The soundtrack might have featured the songs of James Blunt instead of Nick Drake. Agresti never gets heavy handed or pretentious with some of the more profound notions the story ponders. He treats the events as simply as possible, with a delicate, refined touch. He also gives us a greater, more magnificent depiction of great Chicago architecture than anything seen in The Break-Up.

Credit also goes to the cast. In my years as a film critic, I never once thought Iíd ever write these words: Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock give excellent performances. Iím guessing Agresti is one of those miracle directors who can coax a great performance out of anybody (see also P.T. Anderson and Cameron Crowe). Both actors do the best work of their careers here, easily. Reeves may be limited, but he stays within his limits here and even goes beyond what is asked of him. This role doesnít need to be showy, nor does he need to ooze charm. Reevesí understated nature and his everyman demeanor fits the material perfectly. Bullock, meanwhile, finally delves deeply into a character and reveals so much about Kate, sometimes without saying a word.

The Lake House accomplishes so much without ever looking like itís trying too hard. Some might argue that a great love story canít work if the two leads donít have instant chemistry. That might be true, but since the characters in The Lake House live two years apart from one another, the chemistry they do have feels unconventional and unusual. Itís there, but maybe itís something deeper than chemistry. Maybe, unlike most love stories, itís not about how great these two characters would be together (if they could only get together), but about how much greater their lives would become once they found each other. How often have you heard people say they backed out on a relationship because they didnít feel they had instant chemistry with the other person? What if they had just spent a little more time with that person? I guess theyíll never know.

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originally posted: 06/19/06 02:37:34
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User Comments

9/09/19 Kickin it So much better than Speed! 5 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
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
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  16-Jun-2006 (PG)
  DVD: 26-Sep-2006



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