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THE LAKE HOUSE

Review by Michael Jacobson

Stars:  Keanu Reeves, Sandra Bullock, Dylan Walsh, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Christopher Plummer
Director:  Alejandro Agresti
Audio:  Dolby Digital 5.1
Video:  Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Studio:  Warner Bros.
Features:  Deleted Scenes, Trailer
Length:  98 Minutes
Release Date:  September 26, 2006

“The one man I can never meet…him, I would give my whole heart to.”

Film ***1/2

The Lake House has all the inherent problems of a time travel movie, yet its approach is so sweet-natured and pure-hearted that for once, I found myself completely resigned to the story instead of picking it apart in my brain.  Sure, there have been a few nagging moments of doubt since…after all, the basic premise of the movie is impossible by any stretch of the known laws of physics, time and space…but these anomalies are just a means to an end, not the movie’s soul.

The soul is in the characters and the most welcome reuniting of Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock.  Has it really been more than a decade since these two lit up the screen in Speed?  Note to the studios:  next time, don’t take so long.

Each plays a good but sad and somewhat lonely character, going through life somewhat set apart from those around them.  Like the big lake house in the title, it’s as if both are constantly enshrined in a glass box, seeing everything but isolated from it.  Alex Wyler (Reeves) is an architect, whose father (Plummer) built said house.  His relationship with his father, and perhaps with himself, had been strained for years by the time he finally decides to buy the house for himself and move in.

When he does, he finds a note from the previous tenant, Kate Forster (Bullock), an emergency room doctor who works long shifts but doesn’t find much connection in the never ending stream of patients coming in and out her door. 

There seems to be a mistake…no one had lived in the lake house for years before Alex, and Alex finds Kate’s note mysteriously in 2004, though she wrote it in 2006.

That’s where a few scientifically inclined eyebrows might rise, but can your disbelief.  The two begin a correspondence across time through a mailbox that seems to deliver their messages instantaneously to each other.  At first skeptical but soon accepting of the phenomenon, Alex and Kate begin what can only be described as the definitive long distance relationship.  They find solace and real human connection with one another, even though they could never hope to meet.  Or can they?  If letters can be exchanged across a two year time difference, maybe anything is possible.

The movie works because it’s pure in heart and spirit even if a little muddy in the science department.  Our hopes and feelings are invested in the characters, not the premise.  People go to romantic movies to see lovers overcome tremendous obstacles in order to be together.  They just may not have ever seen an obstacle quite like this.

Mr. Reeves and Ms. Bullock proved the chemistry they shared in Speed was no fluke.  It’s the earnestness and sincerity they both bring to their roles that make the picture work…in lesser hands, it may have just been a quantum physics puzzle that collapsed in on itself.  So great is their ability to create and project chemistry that they do it even without sharing much screen time together.  That takes talent, and these actors have it.

The Lake House manages a fresh twist on a tried and true formula, and despite the many reasons I can think of as to why it shouldn’t work at all, it does work, and beautifully.  This is easily the year’s most romantic film.

Video ***1/2

This anamorphic transfer from Warner is a real treat…lots of outdoor shots in beautiful locations, and the presentation delivers it all with crispness and clarity, with only a hint of noticeable bleeding here and there in some extremely wide shots.

Audio  ***

The surround track is nicely done given the romantic and talkative nature of the film.  There are a few ambient sound effects from the rear channel to make the experience more engrossing.  Dynamic range is fair, but the music and songs are a real plus, and spoken words are clean and clear throughout.

Features *1/2

The extras include 5 deleted scenes/outtakes, and a theatrical trailer.

Summary:

I think people instinctively respond to movies like The Lake House because deep down inside, no matter how implausible a scenario, we cling to the belief that love can overcome all odds and obstacles.  The film certainly reaffirmed my faith.  Highly recommended.

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