The Lake House

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Review #156 of 365
Film: The Lake House [PG] 105 minutes
WIP™ Scale: $10.75
Where Viewed: AMC Loews Meridian 16, Seattle, WA
When 1st Seen: 17 June 2006
Time: 4:00 p.m.
Review Dedicated to: Nat and Laura C. of San Diego, CA via Chicago, IL

Rachel Portman - The Lake House (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

Click for 'Review Lite' [a 150-word review of this film]
Lake House is temporal mechanically complicated. This is an entirely theoretical branch of quantum physics devoted to the prospect of time travel. While the film does not actually involve time travel of people, it does of objects. So, if you are easily challenged by thoughts of time travel and temporal mechanics like one audience member I over heard last eve shrug after the film, "I didn't get that movie at all.", or if you are completely at ease having read the Temporal Mechanics for Dummies [actually it hasn't been written yet, but you'd know if you are this category] then I would think one of three states would occur for you when put into mental proximity of this screenplay by Pulitzer Prize-winning author of "Proof", Chicagoan, David Auburn.

(A) You will be able to suspend your disbelief of the whole notion of two people who fall in love communicating via letters from a time-shifting mail box exactly two years apart in time, and you will be able to accept this story for what it really is and that is a good, old-fashioned, finding-your-one-true-love story.

(B) You will not be able to suspend your disbelief or you won't know how to, you will not be able to get what's going on the whole time which will leave you in a messy mental condition at the end and really wishing you'd gone to see Cars like I suggested to you last week!

(C) You will really love the story and all, but the temporal mechanical flaws combined with a simple logic flaw that is never really addressed in the screenplay will nag at you such that you just cannot get past it, and that will drive you to either really end up hating the film or just accepting it again sort of like the latter part of (A).

If it makes you feel any better, I am sort of a cross between A and C, so imagine my messy mental condition right now.

So, let me break down the basics. Architect Alex Wyler (Keanu Reeves) and physician Kate Forster (Sandra Bullock) meet on a lark because, in her 2006, Dr. Kate sends a letter to the new tenant of her old Lake House asking him or her to forward her mail. Alex moves into the Lake House which actually used to be his boyhood home and was designed by his father and receives her letter. The problem is that Alex gets Kate's letter in his 2004. They quickly discover this dilemma, determine it is real, watch the red flag of the mail box flip up and down in their respective times as they are moved by the other one in their times, write letters back and forth, do sweet things for each other, and fall as much in love as you can via sweet letters. Even though screenwriter David Auburn's body of work is relatively small, so far he has demonstrated an amazing ability to understand the baggage of the parent/child relationship. Here we have Alex and his best-friend of Frank Lloyd Wright architecture professor father with tons of chips on each other's shoulders, prompting Alex to abandon the family and disappear to what he describes to his father later as either "forget him or forgive him". Then, poor Kate's father has died widowing the sweetest mother of all time who reads all of his old books savoring every page knowing that was once on those pages reading those words and guiding his beloved daughter to become a doctor so she can help others, though it's never clear that is what she really loves to do. So, on top of falling in love, Alex and Kate fill voids in each other's lives at times when they both need voids filled. Which is a problem because, if you are living 2 years behind the one you love, it leaves other voids unfulfilled.

"The Lake House is…complicated…[still] the film works quite well…on many levels."
So, all of that sounds okay, right?

And then the temporal mechanics starts to kick in. Why doesn't either one of them try to climb inside the mailbox some how, at least an arm would fit through so they could hold hands? Does the mailbox have to be closed to transport objects? Alright, so that's only the beginning, turns out that Kate and Alex actually met in the past prior to their snail mail relationship back in Kate's 2004). And who brought them together? Their dog, Jack, who seems to have something to do with all this because, guess what, Jack ends up living with both of them as the Lake House. Hmm. Interesting. So, Jack makes it possible for them to meet by running off and into Kate's boyfriend, so Alex meets Morgan, Morgan invites Alex to his surprise birthday party for Kate, Alex goes to the party and meets Kate whom he knows because he's been writing to her and getting letters from her, they end up kissing and getting caught, but he doesn't tell Kate they'll meet in her future 2006 because he's sure, I guess, she'll think he's crazy. So, then they never see each other again in Alex's 2004.

And that last sentence prompts the logic flaw. Forget all the temporal mechanics problems. Alex has made physical contact with his 2004-Kate. They kissed. He knows she's the same Kate he's fallen for from her letters of 2006 transported to his 2004. So, why on earth doesn't he continue to pursue her in his 2004? Why does he only continue to pursue her in her 2006 which he cannot get to (unless he can figure out how to squeeze into that mail box)? Why doesn't he just show her her letters from the future as proof of their meeting and get on with it. Only a Star Trek temporal mechanics expert would be able to answer the "A Sound of Thunder"—short story by Ray Bradbury about hunters that go back in time to kill dinosaurs that are going to die anyway, and one guy steps off the path kills a butterfly, and when they return to their time, many, little things have changed—problems what would have been caused by him doing so, but it makes no logical sense that he didn't try it.

Anyway, so the plot, it might be safe to say, has some complications. The acting throughout is pretty good. Ms Bullock is back as the nice and loveable one people adore after her stint as the racist and callous Asst. D.A.'s wife in Crash. Mr. Reeves is still somewhat wooden and constantly surprised by everything. I've never known an actor who constantly looked surprised all the time in every role he plays. But you know what, I think actually, that is what makes him so interesting to watch as an actor because everything he does is a child-like discovery, and who doesn't like to watch that? Christopher Plummer plays Alex's father with English charm and stubbornness. He is great fun to watch. Ebon Moss-Bachrach plays Alex's little brother with zeal and infectious enthusiasm—look for him to have a promising future with dashing good looks and a killer coif. Dutch actress Willeke van Ammelrooy was the perfect choice to play Kate's precious and adorable mother. And the lovely Iranian actress, Shohreh Aghdashloo, who stunned people in House of Sand and Fog and has been popping up everywhere from X-Men: The Last Stand to American Dreamz, plays the gorgeous doctor friend and mentor of Kate. Argentine director, Alejandro Agresti, did an amazing job keeping track of this film. As I am sure nearly 99% of all people who see it will get even just a little lost in the time loops, how he was able to film this and have it make some semblance of sense, I'll never know. Putting even just one scene out of order would practically kill it, and since very few movies are shot chronologically, it is difficult to imagine attempting this film. The look, feel, light, emotion, befit the tone and sensibility of the story. This is not a sci-fi film. In fact, if I give no credit at all, I can credit the fact that nobody gets caught up in the science of it. They just focus on the love. And that, really, is what life should be about anyway. On many levels, the film works quite well. If you pay no attention to the logic and time problems and just enjoy it without trying to figure it out, The Lake House offers some sweet sentiments on true love.

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Review-lite [150-word cap]
Written by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of "Proof", David Auburn, and directed by Argentine director, Alejandro Agresti, The Lake House reunites Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock in a complicated, time-bending film to prove that even two years of bygones cannot stand in the way of true love. Occasionally, challenging to follow, the film still works quite well in the end. The supporting cast includes Christopher Plummer, Ebon Moss-Bachrach, Willeke van Ammelrooy, Shohreh Aghdashloo who all do wonderful jobs with their roles. Chicago, as always, makes for a great backdrop to this story rich in architectural metaphors. If you pay no attention to the logic and time problems with the plot and just enjoy it without trying to figure it out, it offers some sweet sentiments about true love.

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