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  Publicity Stills of "The Lake House"
(Courtesy from GVP)

Genre: Romance/Drama
Director: Alejandro Agresti
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Sandra Bullock, Christopher Plummer, Lynn Collins, Shohreh Aghdashloo
RunTime: 1 hr 45 mins
Released By: GVP
Rating: PG

Opening Day: 20 July 2006

Synopsis :

A lonely doctor begins exchanging love letters with a frustrated architect through a mysterious letterbox, later discovering they are separated in time by two years.

Movie Review:

Time-travel’s an unforgiving bitch to screenplay writers everywhere. Ever since 2004’s indie hit, Primer, I’ve stopped trying to care about the various intricacies and innate contradictions of its nature. Trying being the operative word. And as I had expected, there’s plenty of gaps in this film’s script that are the size of manholes. But never mind the lack of a watertight script, this film does not pimp out the time-travel aspect of its premise as its only draw. It’s the first collaboration of the extremely likable Sandra Bullock and the extremely dour Keanu Reeves since 1994’s smash hit, Speed.

Unfortunately if you thought they had no chemistry 12 years ago, then you’re not likely to be surprised when they are paired together in a much tamer affair like The Lake House. For that reason alone, I find it very hard to buy that they believed they were soul mates based on their largely superficial correspondences in the film. With one eye on keeping intact the bursting seams of the temporal dissonance and another eye on the flimsy relationship that’s crafted by its 2 leads, the story sacrificed the wrong chicken by underplaying the relationship the protagonists should have shared. What made Siworae (of which Lake House’s premise was based) such a great and unique romance genre experience was that its 2 leads were transfixed by each other and nothing else.

But that’s not to say the Argentine director (Alejandro Agresti) didn’t try to build a proper narrative from the leaky screenplay, because there’s plenty of evidence to show he did. Unfortunately, he also seemed unsettled in his first Hollywood attempt by overcompensating for the lack of a coherent story by overloading the saccharine quality of the film, much like he did in Valentin, his Spanish coming-of-age film set in the 60s.

It’s already a little too sugary when you have a lead as sweet and charming as Sandra Bullock who’s a show-carrying (next to the adorable dog and the gorgeous Chicago cinematography) star in this tailor-made role. However, once again, Hollywood has misused and by all accounts misrepresented the ever-present talent of Shoreh Aghdashloo by relegating her into an absolutely insipid best-friend-cum-mentor role. Her lines are as trite and hackneyed as they can get, notwithstanding her graceful screen presence.

As Bullock’s Kate is stuck in 2006 and Reeve’s Alex who’s stuck in 2004 try to communicate using the Lake House’s mailbox, they find themselves being thrown for a loop. It actually borders on comical, as their correspondence becomes a veritable Internet chat-room because of the overstated use of the mailbox flag visual device (it goes up when there’s a letter and goes down when a letter is taken out) which is just one of the many visual reminders placed. In fact, the editing of the voices reading the letters out loud is overlaid with one another’s to give it a conversational feel throughout their non-relationship. The way they seem to ease into the fact that they are having a supernatural connection is a little too contrived, leaving the most obvious questions that they could have asked of each other, eventually unanswered.

With the dual paradoxes of time and space being examined on an emotional scale, it has to show some semblance of being on the right track more often than not, which it does. Ultimately, it’s nothing too profound as midway its focus is dead set on getting both Kate and Alex together through the apparent obstacles they encounter, revealing a past acquaintance.

In the end, it seems to be an unconvincingly attempted metaphor about lonely young professionals that live in a bustling city, which sometimes forgets them that is insubstantial in the grander scheme of things. You’ll spend more time linking the change of events than appreciating its underlying messages. There’s something so morally perverse about changing the past to suit your present especially when you know the consequences, but I suppose that shouldn’t hamper the admittedly tear-inducing final scenes of this romancer. Not exactly a timeless entry into the genre but still something different nonetheless.

Movie Rating:

(A few hits and a few misses but overall a satisfying way to spend a couple of hours with that special someone)

Review by Justin Deimen


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