Thursday, 01 October 2020
The Lake House
Written by Sandra Fitzpatrick   
Monday, 19 June 2006 20:52


The Lake House is basically the only summer romance being offered for those of us who like to weep into our popcorn once in a while. The question is, will this one film be satisfying enough to quench our thirst for a heart-wrenching, “rather die than be without”, written-in-the-stars, passionate love story? Unfortunately, I think not.

The story’s central focus is a strange and beautiful piece of architecture called the lake house. Made entirely of glass, the picturesque building sits above the open water on stilts, making it seem more a part of nature than the work of human hands. Dr. Kate Forster (Sandra Bullock) rents the house and goes there on days off to unwind from her stressful job in the city. Alex Wyler (Keanu Reeves) is an architect who also has a special connection to the house. On her last day there Kate leaves a welcome note addressed to the new tenant. Alex receives the note in the mailbox but here’s the kicker. He receives it two years in the past. Confused? That’s what “suspension of disbelief” is for.

So he receives the letter and kind of thinks “Hey, who is this nutcase that thinks it’s 2006?” and he writes back. Soon they both come to realize that there is more to life than meets the eye and that not everything has an explanation. They are now pen pals from different years who are falling in love. Talk about a long distance relationship! I’m thinking the chances of internet romance are pretty good compared to this.

Throughout the film are a series of revelations that are supposed to dawn slowly, but that leapt out at me from the start. I’ll try not to give too much away, but I had many of the surprises figured from the get go. One thing that eluded me though was how both Kate and Alex could have the same dog! I mean the exact same dog. Is the dog somehow magical? Is it the H.G. Wells of the animal kingdom? The solution is revealed in time, which is good because I would have obsessed over that detail.

Perhaps you’re wondering if the far-fetched science fiction element bothered me. The answer to that question is no. You’re talking to a girl who wishes Moncton would host a Star Trek Convention.

The Lake House just didn’t live up to my expectations. My main issue was that I had a hard time getting immersed in what was happening. I felt strangely detatched during the whole film, and never once forgot that I was sitting in a movie theatre. It gets off to a slow start and isn’t quite successful at introducing the main characters before throwing us into the plot. What happens next would be so much more involving if I cared more about these two people.

Keanu Reeves struggles to portray an emotional role, but it proves too much for his mechanical acting. He is a handsome guy, but when he cries we laugh. Sandra Bullock is meant for more challenging roles and does a better job of luring us in. But even so I was not emotionally involved. By the time the ending came it felt like a big cheat.

Aside from the performances, I felt that the lake house itself was sadly left out of its own film. It is such a central element to the story that it should have been treated as a character. I would have liked to see more involving shots that brought us inside the structure, showing the characters interacting with the house. Instead there are just a couple of quick exterior shots, and many scenes by the mailbox facing away from the house. Several films successfully used the technique I would have liked to see here. The house in Panic Room came alive with creative camera work. The Shining and The Haunting both had interactive sets, and Life As A House used building a house as a metaphor for the changes in life. I wonder if the original Korean version of this film made better use of its setting.

Overall, this movie might be appealing on the surface but isn’t as deep as it might seem. If you dive in, you might hurt your head! I give The Lake House 5 out of 10 stars.