Lake House, The

Reviewed By William Goss
Posted 07/07/06 15:19:05

"Foregoing Postal"
3 stars (Average)

He’s in 2004. She’s in 2006. They share a magical mailbox. Sounds like a wacky sitcom!

Oh, I kid. What we have here is a long-distance relationship between architect Alex and doctor Kate (Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock, reuniting for the first time since 1994’s Speed) as they virtually share the titular residence without ever having to worry about how to leave the toilet seat. Upon coming to terms with the strange situation, the two begin regular correspondence through the portal and make efforts to somehow transplant their relationship from the realm of the abstract to a much more tangible time so that they may finally be together. (Cue swoon.)

The lonely lovers take to their hurdle with a minimal dose of skepticism and develop their relationship with equally negligible passion. Bullock and Reeves mope about in even measure, although he gets saddled with the arguable burden of the situation. With a two-year head start, he is often forced to arrange their forthcoming rendezvous or return a neglected novel (if you must know, Jane Austen’s Persuasion, a title expectedly ripe to draw mild plot parallels from), while she pouts to family and friends, including token sensible colleague Shohreh Aghdashloo. The challenge of fake sneezes and tears proves periodically taxing to Reeves, but both are as discontented as anyone could hope throughout the majority of the proceedings.

A remake of 2000’s South Korean romance, Siworae (Il Mare), this American adaptation is flawed from the start, hampered by a concept of limited potential and topped with a deficit of inspired execution. Although director Alejandro Agresti (Valentin) and writer David Auburn (Proof) go about the story with reasonable tact, the very premise stifles any true chemistry between the pair. As a plot containing circumstances that exist solely out of convenience, there is never the slightest doubt that the estranged lovers won’t come together by the closing credits because, let’s face it, without that sizable obstacle around, there would be no movie. Since such providence proves to be so very predictable in its outcome, it should become a matter of how they will manage, and to that end, the resulting dilemma and chemistry aren’t quite substantial or impressive enough to work. The Lake House’s most significant flaw is that its crucial “What if?” exists solely to provide romance by default.

To intentionally dwell on the plot’s plausibility any longer than absolutely necessary would be a foolish prospect indeed, inevitably making matters a bit less bearable. Still, even after ignoring the frequently faulty logic, a dubious feat to say the least, it wants to work on a heart level without putting any heart into it. After all, who needs common sense when you have 100 minutes of melancholic lovey-doviness to fill? Speaking of which, some selective snipping, particularly a pair of rather extraneous parental tangents including her compassionate mother and his remote father/designer of the main abode (Christopher Plummer), might lend a sense of urgency or momentum that is otherwise absent.

To boot, the effortlessly telegraphed ‘twist’ is made all the less satisfying and all the more stubborn by the characters’ sheer ignorance throughout the bloated climax. It doesn’t make for a poor movie, only a predictable one with particularly frustrating flaws that some may be able to gloss over while others simply cannot bring themselves to. In the meantime, the most love seems to be shown to Chicago from cinematographer Alar Kivilo, as he aptly provides a modest tour of the Windy City’s architecture with a sincerity that manages to surpass any alleged passion between the leads.

However, pretty pillars aside, the film falters in its romantic intentions, in spite of the modern, mature, low-key, and deliberately paced delivery. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that this comes out almost exactly two years after 'The Notebook,' a film equally guaranteed to win over most every viewer of the female persuasion. Hopefully, Hollywood will hold back on some of the saccharine next time, because 'The Lake House' just doesn’t seem to have enough room for us cynics, leaving us out in the cold to stifle our hearts and scratch our heads.

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