In 10 Words or Less
Past, present and no future
Loves: High-concept films
Likes: Keanu Reeves, romantic films
Dislikes: Sandra Bullock
Hates: How Hollywod adapts Asian films
Now that Hollywood's well of Asian horror films has run somewhat dry, it seems they can turn their sights on Asia's vibrant array of romantic films, starting with Il Mare, which they've turned into The Lake House. I can't wait to see what happens next when they remake My Sassy Girl with Elisha Cuthbert. < Sarcasm Off >
You don't get more than 10 minutes into this adaptation before the ending makes itself obvious, in a way that observant people will find hard to miss. Fortunately, the ending isn't good enough to be ruined by this revelation, and it comes early enough in the game that you might forget about it by the time it rolls around again. While you're waiting, a mildly entertaining and exceedingly far-fetched tale of long-distance romance unfolds.
Moving out of her glass-enclosed lake house, Kate (Sandra Bullock) leaves a card with mail forwarding instructions for the next resident. Oddly, the person who finds it is the previous owner, Alex (Keanu Reeves), who notices the date on the card is two years into the future. Thus begins a pen-pal exchange through time (kind of like the IM of the early 20th century), which blossoms into an only-in-movies love affair, sight unseen.
Dramatically deep voice-over conversations, like the e-mail swaps in You've Got Mail, serve to unite the two, as they learn about each other and live their lives two years apart. Of course, they aren't entirely apart, a fact the film explains as it meanders through the plot, teasing the audience with near-misses and one massive coincidence. If this film rewards its audience for anything, it's for an ability to suspend one's disbelief, which will help a lot as the movie progresses.
You may want to go ahead and suspend that disbelief, as Alex and Kare are the kind of couple you'd like to see make it in life. Together, Reeves and Bullock are a lovey-dovey duo with the kind of low-key chemistry that doesn't depend on raw sexuality or witty, unnatural banter. Instead, they just belong together, even if they spend most of the movie apart. As a fan of Reeves, I give him a great dea of credit for the humanity he gives his characters, and Alex is no different.
Though the film lost some of Il Mare's grace and charm in translation, the look remains as good as before, thanks to veteran Euro-director Alejandro Agresti, and DP Alar Kivilo (A Simple Plan). The look is that of a fine landscape painting, populated by actors, who feel more substantial because of the austere settings. There's a serenity to the film that enhances the story, letting the characters story develop at a proper pace. Ironically, you need the right amount of time to tell this story right.
Packaged in a standard keepcase, The Lake House is a one-disc release that features a static, anamorphic widescreen main menu. The menu offers a choice to play the film, select scenes, adjust languages and check out special features. Language options include English, French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks, and English, French and Spanish subtitles, as well as closed captioning.
The anamorphic widescreen transfer on this disc isn't the best I've seen from a new movie lately, but that fits in with the level of effort shown on this disc. Though colors are appropriate and the level of detail is good, some softness is obvious in places and some digital artifacts crop up in spots. There's no dirt or damage obvious, and overall it's a decent, but certainly not great presentation.
The 5.1 track does it's job, and not much more, making sure the dialogue is crisp and the music has the right enhancement in the surrounds. Some sound effects and minor music pieces make their way to the sides and rear, but it's mostly center-focused.
Slim pickings here, with five deleted scenes providing the meat. Watched separately or all-together, they don't mean much to the final cut of the film, though one outtake is cute. The film's nice theatrical trailer is also found here. It's practically a catalog release, which is surprising, considering the stars involved.
The Bottom Line
The Lake House is a solid date movie, offering romance for the lovers out there and some sci-fi intrigue for the geeks, while maintaining an interesting concept that by all rights shouldn't have worked. It's no classic, but it doesn't shame the original either. The DVD on the other hand combines decent specs and a minimal pair of extras to make a disc that few will climb over fences to obtain. If you're in a couple looking for a film to enjoy together, this is a good choice, but ownership should be limited to those with a severe addiction to either of the stars.
Francis Rizzo III is a native Long Islander, where he works in academia. In his spare time, he enjoys watching hockey, writing and spending time with his wife, daughter and puppy.Check out 1106 - A Moment in Fictional Time or follow him on Twitter
*The Reviewer's Bias section is an attempt to help readers use the review to its best effect. By knowing where the reviewer's biases lie on the film's subject matter, one can read the review with the right mindset.