Reviewed by

Bud Carlson

Hollywood has frequently borrowed from Asian cinema, producing remakes and re-workings of some of the more interesting movies to come out of that region of the world. In the past, most of those remakes have been in the horror movie or actioner genre (films like “The Grudge”, “Dark Water” and “The Ring” come to mind), but now we are starting to see films from other genres coming across the Pacific. The first real evidence of this trend is “The Lake House” which is a Hollywood remake of the Korean film “Il Mare.”

Dr. Kate Forster (Sandra Bullock) just moved from rural Illinois, where she completed her residency, and has taken a job at a big-city Chicago hospital. She has moved out of the lake house and into a nice apartment in the newest building in the city, and she drives a nice early-70’s Mustang hardtop. She’s a sweet, well-centered, single girl. She’s doing well for herself, yet she is looking for more from her life, more from her job, and more from her relationships. She begins exchanging letters with Alex Wyler (Keanu Reeves), and though she has never seen him, she finds herself falling in love with him through their letters. Alex Wyler is the son of a world-renowned architect, and was raised with a distinguished eye for elements of design and architecture. However, he has yet to really put it all together for himself, and is currently working as a homebuilder, putting together cookie-cutter homes in cookie-cutter subdivisions. Alex decides to move into the lake house that his father built many years ago, and the first day that he lives there, he receives the first letter from Kate. Ah, but here’s the rub: Kate has moved out of the lake house and into her new apartment in the year 2006, while Alex (the new tenant) is moving into the lake house in the year 2004. It seems the two live concurrently, but they are actually living two years apart. And the only portal between the two times is the mailbox in front of the lake house.

Throughout the movie, the whole time-thing doesn’t pass the logic test. The characters meet occasionally when they shouldn’t (or couldn’t). The period of time during which they each live in the lake house overlaps, but yet they don’t live there at the same time in the story. And Alex’s pet dog goes from one character to another, and belongs to both characters at the same time.  But you know what, that doesn’t matter, as that’s not really what the movie is about. “The Lake House” is, at its core, the story of unrealizable romance and unattainable love.  It’s a tried-and-true formula for romance stories, and the comparison that jumps to mind is “Ghost”.  “The Lake House” bridges the calendar (using the mailbox as the portal) in a similar way that “Ghost” bridged to the afterlife (using Whoopi Goldberg as the portal).

The first part of the movie develops the characters of Kate and Alex, but it does so very slowly and arduously. As the relationship develops, the pacing improves somewhat, but is still slow overall (especially for me, having watched “Tokyo Drift” mere hours before).

On-screen chemistry is a funny thing, in that it’s usually either exists between characters, or it doesn’t. But in the case of Bullock and Reeves, it’s sort of luke-warm. The two actors being reunited for the first time since “Speed” (the movie that really put both of them on the map), clearly there is history and familiarity between them, but I’m not too sure there was much chemistry there. But that’s probably more OK for this film than for others, given the framework of the movie and the fact that the two aren’t on screen together for more than 5 minutes in total. Where the film suffers from this lack of chemistry is when the characters finally do get together, the most romantic part of the story, and yet the payoff is disappointing.  The screenplay was written by David Auburn (the playwriter best-known for “Proof”, which I have reviewed previously), who again goes to great length to give us characters who are multi-dimensional, interesting, and desirable. But they are interesting and desirable separately, instead of being interesting and desirable together.

So “The Lake House” is a good movie, probably worth seeing if you’re in the mood for a tale of romance. But it is great by no means, moving way too slow, with too many holes and not enough chemistry between the two leads.

Armstead’s Second:  Cool.  Bullock and Reeves back together again, ‘cause I’ve been a Sandra Bullock guy since Demolition Man baby.  They’re locked in some Lake House or whatnot, Dennis Hopper done planted a bomb and KABLOOEY!!! Mayhem and Chaos ensues.  Alas, it was not to be.  I didn’t care for this one as I thought it was slow, syrupy and dull.  But I quizzed a few hens exiting the theater and a fair number of them found it enjoyable, so I’ll roll with what they say.  They never even bother to explain what caused the rift in the time space continuum either.

You see, what I woulda done was have Dennis Hopper plant a bomb at the Lake House in like in 2004, then have Keanu and Laurence Fishburne play cops in 2006 and have to tell Sandy B. in 2004 to cut the red wire or the green wire through letters that slice through the time space continuum, but if the letters drop below the speed of light then KABLOOEY!!!!  Yeah, that’s what I woulda done.

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