In a great scene from “The Lake House”, Kate Forster (Sandra Bullock) tells Alex Wyler (Keanu Reeves) what she loves about Jane Austin’s “Persuasion”. What Kate loves about the book is that love can occur at the wrong time, and even when the characters wait it doesn’t work out. Alex again inquires why it is Kate’s favorite. Kate laughs. Magical chemistry. This is part of the brilliant charm of Director Alejandro Agresti’s “The Lake House”. It is a touching and funny love story about Kate’s conceit that you wait for the right time and for the right one. Those familiar with the movie’s trailer know that in the story by David Auburn (based on previous work by Eun-Jeong Kim and Ji-na Yeo) that time is the insurmountable obstacle posed to Alex and Kate. As the story opens, Kate (Bullock) is a lonely doctor dedicated to “helping people” who leaves this exquisitely designed lake house outside Chicago as she begins her residency in the city. She leaves a note to the incoming tenant in the mailbox. Alex, a talented architect who sold out on his craft to build tract homes, receives Kate’s letter. However, for Alex it is 2004. For Kate it is 2006. Yes, this involves time travel. But fear not. There are no treaties on worm holes or Special Relativity. Agresti instead focuses on impact of completing relationships and true love.
Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves are awesome together as Kate and Alex. Along with Agresti, they create Kate and Alex as both lonely characters, not in the morose sense rather people caught up in their lives without any compelling romantic relationship. Bullock is wonderful as Kate. Reeves, who is often much maligned as wooden, embodies an ease and compassion in Alex. Bullock and Reeves are great looking, and they are a great looking couple. Their screen chemistry overcomes the inherent narrative constraints. “The Lake House” so works, because we want to see Alex and Kate get together. David Auburn’s story enrolls us in Alex and Kate’s love story. Alex is estranged from his father Simon Wyler (the cantankerous Christopher Plummer), who is a legendary architect in the realm of Frank Lloyd Wright. Upon the prodigal son’s return after traveling the world and selling out on his gifts, all in an attempt to “forget” his father, Simon asks “Did it succeed?” When Alex was 8 years-old Simon built the Lake House for his wife, Alex’s mother. As Simon became successful and famous Alex’s mother suffered and she eventually left. Later she became ill and passed away. Simon did not even attend her funeral. His cold words to Alex remained with him. In his eyes his father is a monster, but he is still his father and commands his respect though not necessarily his love. Kate (Bullock) had only one significant relationship in her life that being with attorney Morgan (a good Dylan Walsh)a nice guy, but not “the guy”. Kate has also sold out on love, under the guise of dedication to her work. In a touching moment Kate’s Mom (Willeke van Ammelrooy) tells her about the forsaken great love of her life. The preposterous dual time line works, only because Kate and Alex are smart, running with it without ponder. And they fall in love. Alex says to his brother Henry (Ebon Moss-Bachrach), “She’s more real to me than anything I’ve ever known.”
Writer Auburn brilliantly weaves the plot twists throughout and the results are funny and poignant. Acknowledge Auburn too, for the clarity in retrospect within the story particularly at the end. Throughout there are hints that Kate and Alex have met before. There is the train station scene that is so heartfelt, the theater was silent. Agresti and Auburn are great romantics. “The Lake House” is a testament to true love, and having one’s life being whole and complete. They manage a sense of yearning and regret with humor and compassion. Sandra Bullock is stunning in her understated performance. She brings such a grace and authenticity to Kate. Keanu Reeves compellingly displays the swirling emotions just below the surface. Here his subtle charm is impressively leveraged. “The Lake House” is an amazing and timeless love story well worth seeing.
Watch the movie trailer:
This post was previously published on IMDb.
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Photo credit: Screenshot from official trailer.