The Lake House

The Lake House


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Having a love affair with a ghost in Truly, Madly, Deeply worked because the concept, once rinsed through the wishing well of your mind, is a simple one. The love affair in The Lake House is so convoluted that there is no way, even for serial romantics, to keep up. What gets you through is Sandra Bullock.

It is not possible to summarise the story without tying yourself in knots, but here goes. The lake house is an architectural gem, built of steel and glass, on stilts over the waters of Lake Michigan, within easy access of Chicago. It is tiny, but perfectly formed, and when Dr Kate Forster (Bullock), with her dog Jack (a bitch, confusingly) leaves it for the last time in the spring of 2006, she writes a letter to the next buyer/tenant, asking for her mail to be forwarded.

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This is read by Alex (Keanu Reeves), who is baffled, because the house was the creation of his architect father (Christopher Plummer) and he is the only person to have stayed there, after his mother died. Also, he is living in 2004 and has recently adopted a dog, which he calls Jack (a bitch, confusingly).

Are you still with me? Not only is a woman in 2006 corresponding with a man in 2004 through letters left in a post box at the lake house, but they fall in love and agree to meet in two years time, which obviously can't happen, because when he advances into 2006, she should be moving into 2008.

The shuffling of time becomes infuriating because it cheats whenever it feels like it and, as for the ending, the words "out" and "cop" would be far too flattering. It makes you want to pick up the scriptwriter and throw him at a concrete wall.

Somewhere in the heart of this unquiet soul of a film is a message pinned to a tree. It reads, "Distance and Light". Kate finds commitment impossible, which is why her relationship with Alex flourishes because they can never meet, except they do and don't realise it - maybe, maybe not, who knows?

She has a boyfriend/husband who occasionally fills a space in a room without changing it, the kind of guy who activates a self-destruct button every time he opens his mouth to speak. Some people can only be tolerated on anti-depressants. He's one of them.

Alex's father is "captivated by the light," which is why the lake house is a glasshouse. Is this the symbol of hope? Alex has the look of a loner. He's not good with the I-love-yous, either, which is why his girlfriend is so needy and insecure. His fantasy romance with Kate fills 15 volumes of Mills & Boon, because it's all words and no pyjamas.

When Bullock isn't trying to be funny (Miss Congeniality), she smoulders, not like a torch singer, but with burnt-out intelligence, as if the pain of love is matched only by the tragedy of living. As Kate, she is uncompromising and can't be fished with the niceties of a charm school upbringing. As a result, by making herself unavailable, she becomes beautiful.

Reeves has the careless introspection you have come to expect from him. He's lean and laconic and walks like a cowboy. It is a pity that the movie is such a crazy bundle of nonsense because these actors are at the top of their game - Jack is very special, too - and interspersed between shots of Chicago, courtesy of the tourist office, are tastefully chosen ballads by singers you know you should know.

Reviewed on: 23 Jun 2006
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An architect and a doctor have a love affair between time zones.
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Jennie Kermode **1/2

Director: Alejandro Agresti

Writer: David Auburn, based on the screenplay of Siworae by Kim Eun-jeong and Yeo Ji-na

Starring: Keanu Reeves, Sandra Bullock, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Christopher Plummer, Ebon Moss-Bachrach, Willeke van Ammelrooy, Dylan Walsh, Lynn Collins, Mike Bacarella

Year: 2006

Runtime: 105 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: US


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