Wednesday, April 17, 2013
LAKE HOUSE, THE
(June 2006, U.S.)
In 1983, 20th Century Fox released a film called TWO OF A KIND. At the time, the big hype surrounding it was the fact that it reunited the two mega-stars of GREASE (1978), John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John. Trouble was, it had been over six years since GREASE, and frankly, nobody gave a shit any more. As a result of that, and the fact that it was just a terrible movie, it bombed both critically and financially. I bring this up simply because for a summer that was delivering the third X-MEN movie and the return of Superman, to get people interested in devoting their time and money to THE LAKE HOUSE, the hype clearly had to rely on the return of Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock, the two stars of SPEED (1994). Again, the trouble here is that there was a twelve year period between SPEED and THE LAKE HOUSE and I honestly don't think people gave a shit anymore. While the box office intake was respectable, critical reaction was mostly negative. Hell, there's even a particular episode of TV's THE BIG BANG THEORY in which Sheldon Cooper makes it very clear to Penny that it was bad enough that she made him watch that movie (ha, ha, ha!!).
Okay, so you're probably scratching your head right now wondering what the hell I find so damn redeeming and pleasurable about THE LAKE HOUSE that I would include it in my film collection. Well, my only defense I can claim is that I've always been very partial to stories about people who connect personally with their house. Titles like this one, LIFE AS A HOUSE (2001) and UNDER THE TUSCAN SUN (2003) will give you a general idea of what I'm talking about. With regards to my own life, I've been personally connected and dedicated to my beach home in the Hamptons ever since I was a kid. Therefore, it stands to good reason that I would connect with a story like THE LAKE HOUSE, which by the way, it turns out it's an American remake of a South Korean motion picture called IL MARE (2000). Beyond the personal connection to house and home, this romantic drama tells the story of Alex Wyler (Reeves) and Kate Forster (Bullock), respectively an architect living in the year 2004 and a doctor living in the year 2006. The two of them meet via hand-written letters left in a mailbox at said lake house they have both lived in at separate points in time; they carry on this sort of old fashioned correspondence over two years, remaining separated by their original difference of two years. For Alex the time goes from 2004 to 2006 and for Kate the time goes from 2006 to 2008. The question (and the ultimate goal of the film) is how and when will these two potential lovebirds eventually meet in person in real life.
(I really hope that made some sense to you because I can't explain it any better than that!)
By the way, here's what the lake house looks like...
(I'd live in it!)
So this is where romantic fantasy and some major suspension of disbelief have to play a part in your mind (and your heart) in order to begin some level of appreciation for a love story that attempts to go beyond the traditional bullshit Friday night-multiplex romantic comedy. Really, it's easier than you might think. If you've seen enough movies in your life as I have, you can recall story elements of films like AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER (1957), BEST DEFENSE (1984), FIELD OF DREAMS (1989) and SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE (1993), all the while remembering, as Dr. Emmett Brown puts it in BACK TO THE FUTURE-PART III (1990), to think "fourth dimensionally". Put all of this in your mind and your imagination, and THE LAKE HOUSE is a lot more plausible as fantasy fiction than you might think. That being the case, the film takes on a truly fundamental romantic impulse, regardless of any of its logical inconsistencies. I mean, really, think about...we spend much of our lives contemplating how loves makes no sense anyway...so why not here on screen, too??
As an element of strong irony and intruigue, there's the repeated sequence at Chicago's Daley Plaza that I would call your attention to. When the film begins, a man has been hit by a bus and killed, dying in Kate's arms as it turns out. By the end of the film, that tragedy is about to seemingly happen all over again, but this time we know a few things about Alex and Kate and the journey that has brought them to their ultimate destiny. Having pointed that out, I hardly need clarify that Alex's life is forever changed (and saved!) by Kate at the end thanks to the benefit of two year's time and knowledge. Remember, in the end this is still a nice love story starring the two people from SPEED and love always conquers in the end, yes? And despite my negative opinion of a twelve year gap in time between films, Reeves and Bullock DO seem to have a nice chemistry together. Nothing wrong with that.
Favorite line or dialogue:
Kate (voice-over): "Alex, I know why you didn't show up that night. It was you at Daley Plaza that day. It was you. Please don't go. Just wait. Please. Don't look for me. Don't try to find me. I love you...any it's taken me all this time to say it, but I love you. And if you still care for me, wair for me. Wait with me. Just wait. Wait. Wait two years, Alex. Come to the lake house. I'm here."