Wednesday, 12 June 2019

Prime Time: The Lake House (2006)

An American remake of a South Korean movie that was released in the year 2000, The Lake House makes good use of two stars being reunited after displaying such great chemistry in their previous movie (Speed, which was way back in 1994, so this was long overdue). The plotting is, frankly, ridiculous. The cheesiness often goes off the scale. And it's wonderful entertainment.

Things start off with Dr. Kate Forrester (Bullock) leaving a note in a mailbox for the next tenant of her lake house home to please forward her mail. She includes some details about the home that makes no sense to the apparent new tenant, Alex Wyler (Reeves). Quickly discovering the illogical detail that Kate is putting her notes in the mail box in 2006 and Alex is receiving them, and delivering his own notes, in 2004, so begins a quirky romance that leaves viewers hoping that the two leads will figure out a way to get together in the same time and space. Things keep getting in the way, however, and tension starts to build as things head towards a finale that could be uplifting or heartbreaking, depending on what decisions are made by the characters.

Although based on the original screenplay, the script here by David Auburn seems to work well because of the way it quickly sets up the main premise and then endeavours to keep viewers so firmly interested in the central couple, and invested in their plight, that less time is given over to considering how ridiculous and full of holes the whole thing is. The dialogue is sometimes awful, and when I say sometimes I mean most of the time, but it's improved by most of the exchanges involving either Bullock or Reeves. They talk in a way that doesn't ever feel realistic, yet it doesn't matter. This isn't a film about realism. It's a quirky romance tale with two beautiful people trying to do the best by one another.

Argentine director Alejandro Agresti shoots with an eye for the romance of it all. Whether that's scenes in which Reeves wanders around, looking handsome as he tries to set up something that will pay off in two years for the benefit of Bullock, or even just in the way the characters view their surroundings a little differently, the mundane being transformed by what they now consider the presence of someone they are falling in love with.

How much you like the movie will depend on how much you like the leads, but I personally find Bullock and Reeves two of the most likeable stars of the past few decades, which means I watch this movie with a smile on my face for most of the runtime. Support comes from Christopher Plummer (the father of Reeves' character, there are issues there that may or may not be resolved), Ebon Moss-Bachrach (Reeves' brother), Dylan Walsh (someone competing for the affection of Bullock), Shoreh Aghdashloo (Bullock's boss/mentor at her new hospital), and one or two more, but they're all there to simply help or hinder the central romance.

Although I had seen this before, maybe about ten years ago, I couldn't remember how things panned out. To say I was on the edge of my seat during the last scenes would be correct. Others may pretend to be unfazed, I was fully invested and considering the worst while hoping for the best. If you can overlook the massive plot holes, and if you can accept the standard of the dialogue throughout most of the film, you can enjoy this as much as I did. If you cannot put those things aside then, well, that's your loss.


There's a region-free disc available here.

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