"I don't get it," said one confused old man as he filed out of the theater.
Listen up, folks; this movie is not that hard to understand. Take the time to wrap your brain around it and you shouldn't have a problem following along. However, after listening to people talk after the movie I realize that some of you may walk away a little confused. So let me hold your hand and reveal a few facts that you should grasp before seeing this: A) Sandra is corresponding from 2006, B) Keanu is corresponding from 2004, and C) These time periods aren't mutually exclusive. Sandra's character still exists in the 2004 time period that Keanu is communicating from and vice versa.
Got that? Good. Sandra can tell Keanu where she was in 2004, and Keanu can cross her path, but the 2004 version of Sandra will have no clue who Keanu is. Makes sense, right? So the trick is that the 2006 version of Sandra has to figure out where the 2006 version of Keanu is so that they can meet in Keanu's future (AKA Sandra's present). Everything unfolds from there. Seriously, it's not that complicated.
I think most of the confusion exists because the script isn't as tight as it needs to be. It's frustrating because the story could have been much better (and a few plot holes could have been easily eliminated) with a couple of more rewrites. The most frustrating thing to me, and I reveal this because it's best you know it upfront, is that we're never told what exactly is causing the time rift between them.
We're expected to just accept it as fantasy and not demand any explanations. You'll enjoy the film much more if you understand that not all loose ends will be tied and you can ignore the plot holes I alluded to. I'd love to discuss them and explain my specific issues with them, but doing so would reveal way too much of the story. Email me after you see it and we'll discuss.
Throwing those quibbles aside, I actually enjoyed this quite a bit. Perhaps I'm a sucker for romance movies that aren't scared to throw a little of Nick Drake's Pink Moon down on us, but I like that this is a romance that plays it a bit unconventionally. Is it for everybody? No. There's a lot of talking (though it never gets as gay and flowery as I feared), and some of you might find the pace slow. Though I felt it more deliberate.
I also applaud the performances of Sandra and Keanu, who is nowhere near as robotic as you may expect. I actually bought into his emoting! Good job, Mr. Cool Breeze, but you really need to work on making your sneezes more believable.
Fans of romance movies will adore the theme of love and how its power can change someone's life, but since I'm into more masculine topics, I preferred watching the pieces of the time puzzle fall into place. It reminded me a little bit of Frequency - Keanu does something in 2004 and then Sandra recognizes its impact in 2006. Then we follow along as they try to figure out how to meet.
I wanted one of them to leave their hand in the mailbox and see if the other could see it when they went to retrieve the next letter. Perhaps a disembodied hand wiggling around in a mailbox wouldn't have fit with the mood that the writers were going for, but I would've laughed.
Speaking of mood, I thought this was another strongpoint of the movie. The cinematography is great, creating a cold, atmospheric setting. Chicago's impressive architecture is used to great effect. If you like stunning visuals to set your romantic mood then you won't be disappointed.
As long as you're willing to give this film your undivided attention for approximately 100 minutes (and you can easily forgive its shortcomings) then The Lake House will prove to be an intriguing piece of film for lovers of the romance genre.
And hey, even if romances aren't your thing, there might just be enough mystery here to keep your interest. After the movie, my friend commented, "As far as romances go, this is probably the best I've seen." And he hated The Notebook, ladies.
The Lake House suffers from lapses in logic, unnecessary plot holes, and predictability, but I appreciated its attempt to add something fresh to the romance genre. The intriguing mystery and the performances of Sandra and Keanu are effective enough for me to grant my approval to those of you who already have an interest in this one.