Stills of "The Lake House"
(Courtesy from GVP)
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
Day: 20 July 2006
lonely doctor begins exchanging love letters with a frustrated
architect through a mysterious letterbox, later discovering
they are separated in time by two years.
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
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.
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
few hits and a few misses but overall a satisfying way to
spend a couple of hours with that special someone)