I think it was over a month ago that BL and I saw The Lake House. As soon as the movie ended, we looked at each other and said:
BL: "I liked it."
Missy: "I did too."
Missy: "I need to see it again."
BL: "Oh yes, definitely need to see it again."
It was really an odd conversation to have after a movie. "I need to see it again." Don't get me wrong, this was a compliment to the movie, not a complaint. Then as the closing credits scrolled, we discussed the movie. "It only works if they started exchanging letters before the ____ scene." "She'd left him a letter before _____ scene, but I can't remember if he'd responded yet." "We need to see this again."
The upshot was that we were going to see the movie again...only we couldn't get our schedules to line up and now I'm blogging the movie from memory.
In case you don't know, The Lake House is a movie about two lonely people falling in love as they exchange letters. The problem, and it's a biggie, is that he's living in 2004 and she's in 2006. So walking in to the theater we knew there had to be some time travel involved. We decided to go with Roger Ebert's approach:
"I used to get distracted by its (time travel) logical flaws and contradictory time lines. Now in my wisdom I have decided to simply accept it as a premise, no questions asked. A time travel story works on emotional, not temporal, logic."
It turns out, most of this movie works both logically and emotionally--in part because of tight scripting and in part because of the leads' performances. In fact, The Lake House is like a pleasant autumn stroll beside a country pond--better if you take time to savor the colors and enjoy the sounds and fragrances. And that's the way the movie is paced. It doesn't hurry; it takes its time allowing us to get know and care for the characters Kate and Alex, and the third main character...the city of Chicago. That's not to say it's slow, it just paces itself.
The movie pairs Speed stars Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves. And just like Speed, they are cute together and fun to watch...except, like Sleepless in Seattle, they are not together very often. Instead, the story shifts from Kate's (Bullock's) 2006 and Alex's (Reeves) 2004 with an interesting use of voiceovers as they write to each other. Many actors are not good at relying only on their voices...they need their bodies while they act, but surprisingly Bullock and Reeves do a really nice job of the voiceovers, bringing us into their lives. (Conversely, the voiceover in the trailer is pretty bad.) Oddly, Reeves' acting is most awkward in what should have been the easiest scenes...when his character is talking face-to-face with his brother in casual settings. Overall, the pairing of Bullock and Reeves, is like the movie...charming. I'd like to see them together again.
Another nice touch to this movie is the loving, almost idealized, use of Chicago as a character. We see the Picasso in Daley Plaza, the Bowman and Spearman statues at Congress and Michigan Avenues, the bridges lit up over the Chicago River, skating at Millennium park, but the camera also highlights the architectural details of buildings and locations scattered around the city. (I'll try to find some pictures of these to incorporate soon.)
Beyond that, how could anyone not enjoy a movie that spotlights Jane Austen's Persuasion and Alfred Hitchcock's Notorious. Lovers kept apart is an over-simplification of their themes, but is a linking plot point between the three. Persuasion, in particular, is used as a key emotional trigger for Kate and Alex, as summarized by this quote that Alex marks for Kate (you'll have to watch the movie to see how he does this):
“…there could have been no two hearts so open, no tastes so similar, no feelings so in unison, no countenances so beloved”
(UPDATE: I'm getting a lot of hits about the above quote. It is from the 3rd paragraph of the first page of chapter 8 in Persuasion. Happy reading!)
There were a few goofs in the movie...as there always are...but this post has grown too long to mention them...except: Jack should have been in the last scene! I was left with a few questions I hope they answer in the DVD: where was Alex for the four missing years? did Alex design the building his father was looking at in the magazine? where were some of the shooting locations? what year did the movie end in? I really hope the DVD will be filled to the brim with extras, including deleted scenes.
Until then, I'm ready to see The Lake House again.
(On a humorous note: Speed could not have taken place in Chicago because the buses never get up to 50 m.p.h. But I think The Lake House had to be shot in Chicago. Where else would the mailman not notice all those letters in the mailbox!?!?!)