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Overall Rating

Awesome: 24.68%
Worth A Look: 24.68%
Just Average27.27%
Pretty Crappy: 11.69%
Sucks: 11.69%

7 reviews, 35 user ratings

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Lake House, The
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by Erik Childress

"This Was Not A Bus Accident!"
3 stars

The time-space continuum is a complicated wormhole full of wrinkles and paradoxes, capable of bending the simplest of minds and opening enough doors for storytellers to run through in search of the answers to lifeís questions. What ifÖ? Thatís one of the greater ones and when Korean filmmaker Hyun-seung Lee filled-in-the-blank, the result was ďIl MareĒ, a minor charmer about two lovelorn souls brought together by a lake house and a mysterious mailbox capable of bridging the pair even though they lived two years apart. As if trying to be a new generationís Somewhere In Time, Leeís film worked in a few neat concepts but failed to reach for the infinite possibilities inspired by such a puzzle. Now comes the American version, six years apart from the original, and learning nothing from the past despite the charismatic performances of its two leads.

Kate Forster (Sandra Bullock) is a Chicago doctor vacating the glass house by the lake for a more upscale complex in the city. Alex Burnham (Keanu Reeves) is returning to town after a sabbatical away from his family, notably his father (Christopher Plummer), a famous but domineering architect responsible for many of the cityís structures including the lake house to which his son moves into. A letter left behind by Kate in the mailbox provides Alex with some general instructions about the house and apologies for the paw prints on the walkway. Except there are no paw prints. Not until a stray dog steps in Alexís paint and leaves his mark. While hard to believe, Kate & Alex soon begin trading messages in the mailbox despite him living in 2004 and her in 2006.

Once the initial awkwardness is overcome with a few reassurances of their predicament (she warns him of an impending April snowstorm to which Reeves responds with perhaps the fakest sneeze ever recorded), they turn to acceptance becoming magical pen pals who will soon develop feelings for the other in their isolated existences. This leads to the inevitable complication of how they are ever to meet. Some visual tricks allow the two to occupy the same space and carry on a conversation more akin to instant messages than letter-writing, but thatís about all writer David Auburn and director Alejandro Agresti can do to answer the various riddles many astute audiences will already have solved in their heads.

When Kate asks Alex to retrieve a book she lost, he gets a brief glance at her leaving on the train but of course she still has no idea who he is. Doggy-of-Fate though gives him a second chance when he is led to the home of Kateís then-boyfriend (Dylan Walsh), an expedient bore who just canít seem to decipher her sullen disposition every time he appears as a clue that they are not meant for each other. Parting from the original story, Alex and Kate do get to meet in his time and share an evening of dancing and kissing; a pivotal event that Kate suddenly remembers in a bar. But was that because it didnít happen until their fates were intersected or that her sense memory is good enough to remember the exact date that she forgot her copy of Persuasion and not the moment she kissed this handsome stranger and finally soured that dour relationship of hers?

These are the sort of brain-busters that will drive you nuts during and especially after you leave the theater since your own actions would likely be far more sensible Ė like dropping a picture of yourself in the mailbox for starters. Kate may be two years of ahead of Alex, but weíre light years ahead of both of them thanks to an incident which not only telegraphs precisely where the story is headed but again questions how Kate can be a doctor and recall everything she learned in school if she canít even recognize the patients she apparently slaves over. If she can look up Alexís father, why canít she just let her fingers do the walking through a phone book or the internet to find Alex in 2006? (And donít get smart Ė thereís an answer for that answer, not for the question.)

Auburn milks the premise as far as he can, but its discomforting that he was able to find more paradoxes in the formation of math equations in Proof than he can for the obvious X = Y variants here. Where he astrominically succeeds along with Agresti and cinematographer Alar Kivilo (who by no small coincidence also shot ďThe Glass HouseĒ and ďFrequencyĒ) is deliver his own love letter to the city of Chicago. Vince Vaughn brought The Break-Up to Chicago and played a tour guide and yet didnít do any touring. Here, Reeves (obviously unable to see Elizabethtown yet) maps out a walk for Bullock through the great buildings of the city. Not the obvious landmarks that any tourist would flock to, but the inner city foundations representing the beauty of a time thatís past. Itís something quite telling about The Lake House that its many conversations about architecture are more inspiring and intellectual than any of the romantic fumblings which canít stand on their own.

The Lake House would like to do for time travel what The Notebook did for Alzheimerís; using it as a crutch to ensure two people can never live happily ever after unless the rules of science conveniently gives them an opening. Reeves is at his most appealing and Bullock returns to the kind of doe-eyed Windy City longing which made all of male America crush on her after While You Were Sleeping. These two alone keep us in the game long after weíve started to breakdown the inconsistencies in the story. (Just how DOES that book get under her floorboards?) Because the ingenuity factor is so low, it sucks the magic right out as we wonder why the filmmakers and even the characters just arenít having more fun with the possibilities beyond improbably homaging Speed to bridge the two of them.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=14719&reviewer=198
originally posted: 06/16/06 01:07:58
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User Comments

2/12/11 hbotis confused even after second viewing but this is one hidden movie classic- a beauty 5 stars
1/12/10 steve this guy needed kleenex at the end of this one 5 stars
10/05/09 the dork knight Keanu's Zen-like calm never wavers. Good cameo by Plummer 3 stars
12/22/08 Charlene Such a charming movie and Keanu/Sandra were perfect. Jack is adorable! 4 stars
10/30/08 Shaun Wallner Great story! 3 stars
9/18/08 Abi what a romantic and beautiful story! - belief is forever - no border of time 5 stars
1/26/08 Pamela White Could have used a little help with the plot timing 3 stars
8/13/07 Annonomiss Suspend your disbelief and go see this one! Timetravel supernatural elements-intriquing. 4 stars
8/04/07 Cherish Forget about the logic. It's a romantic fantasy and I love it. Love Keanu and Sandra. 5 stars
7/06/07 AnnieG Much much better than I expected from reviews! 3 stars
5/17/07 ES ooo the magic mailbox, sorry not feeling it 2 stars
4/26/07 marshall The quest for & belief in "the one" is a reality. Minus the causality issue, i can relate. 5 stars
4/04/07 Shinde Wonderful movie, made me on the edge of my seat the whole time. 4 stars
1/26/07 alice U liked it, just average but liked it. 3 stars
12/28/06 Kimberly I thought this was a boring movie also. I was very upset with this movie 2 stars
12/17/06 Mockingbird I've lost all respect for you EricDSnider, no wonder you had to see the movie with your sis 1 stars
12/06/06 JULES get confused trying to connect every scenario,(& yes the fakest sneeze ever) but romantic.. 4 stars
11/03/06 marlee i loved this movie. it was beautiful 5 stars
11/02/06 Irina i've watched it 4 times over the last 2 days! 5 stars
10/11/06 Danny OMG, how boring! 2 good actors totally wasted. I found it hard to stay awake. 1 stars
10/11/06 Megan What is the book she reads in the movie? 3 stars
9/29/06 thaMASTAH The movie was okay. It could've been better though. 3 stars
9/25/06 christine mae its so very nice!!!!cge lng ug kisskiss 3 stars
9/07/06 Stephanie Throckmorton Wildly bizarre for little other reason than making feelgood end more refreshing than cliche 3 stars
7/31/06 kaz beautiful and moving.. 5 stars
7/20/06 jcjs inane, yet for 'dreamers' speaking to the core of 'love' , 'beauty' , 'significance', 'art' 5 stars
6/23/06 JUDE ll also be a great video to watch in yor bathrobe 4 stars
6/22/06 barbara a great oldfashioned capra type - have keanu and sandy play in a remake of random harvest 4 stars
6/22/06 docmoreau I am not an objective film reviewer. This film was shot in and around Chicago, my hometown 5 stars
6/22/06 kathy kaufman lovely movie; gentle and evenly paced, with a fun mystery to it. enjoyed the soundtrack 4 stars
6/20/06 NH It works for me! 5 stars
6/19/06 Debbie Borders Loved It!! 5 stars
6/16/06 bobbi The movie goer's conversation in the seat next to me was more interesting than this movie 1 stars
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  16-Jun-2006 (PG)
  DVD: 26-Sep-2006



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