Anyone concerned over the rising price of postage should invest in a mailbox like the one featured in The Lake House. Forget first-class postage; this mailbox transports correspondence back and forth over two years through a worm hole.
As someone who blubbered through Somewhere in Time, I have no problem admitting I’m a sucker for love stories that transcend time. There’s something both heartbreaking and hopeful in a story about lovers separated by pages on a calendar. Films tampering with the space-time continuum usually bring up more questions than they have time to answer, and The Lake House is no different. The screenplay by David Auburn, based on the South Korean film Il Mare, purposely sidesteps logic in order to advance the story.
Those looking for logic will be disappointed, but those looking for a love story that spans the years will find the reunion of stars Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves something to celebrate. Previously behind the wheel of the thriller Speed, the couple plays strangers who fall in love despite rarely sharing the screen together.
Bullock plays Chicago doctor Kate Forster, who gives up the beautiful lake-front home to be closer to the hospital. Reeves is architect Alex Wyler, whose emotionally distant father, Simon (Christopher Plummer), designed the lake house for his wife, who left the family and died soon after.
Forster and Wyler share correspondence via the mailbox, unaware they are separated by more than just area codes. Some good-natured teasing leads to serious discussions, and it isn’t long before the couple realizes they’re not only sharing the same dog; they’re also sharing something magical.
That’s the only way to describe the time warp that connects Alex in 2004 with Kate in 2006. Once they become aware of their dilemma, Kate and Alex make several attempts to bridge the time gap. Reeves and Bullock are charming enough to make this pursuit enjoyable. We want them to beat the odds, even if it means forgiving plot holes large enough to drive a bus through.
If The Lake House had taken place before the Internet became a valuable and accepted search tool, it would be easier to forgive the script’s laziness. Auburn not only asks us to forgive a lot; he simply ignores the obvious. Kate and Alex share cute exchanges, but never do they pass along valuable information. The characters accept their situation without hesitation, never giving the phenomenon much credence.
So it becomes important that we, like the characters, accept all of this at face value. Look any deeper and you’ll get lost. For instance, Kate and Alex only live two years apart, yet spend most of the film playing catch up. One phone call would have ended their quest. Even the exchange of photos instead of another letter would have brought the story to a standstill.
In the moment, leaving all of the baggage at the station, The Lake House remains a pretty enjoyable ride. Valentin director Alejandro Agresti paints pretty pictures, using the lake house as a metaphysical metaphor. The house represents serenity, hope, possibilities. Every time a character leaves the house, he or she leaves behind those values. Kate finds cold solace at the hospital, while Alex is forced to struggle with the realities affecting his family.
With its picturesque cast and location, The Lake House is pretty to look at and makes you feel good. It won’t solve your problems, but it will help you forget them for a couple of hours.