I too, saw and liked "The Lake House", but perhaps not as much as you did. While it was indeed quite sweet-spirited and charming, it had a few problems that I couldn't quite get around... here's a review I wrote.
Review: The Lake House
Reviewing "The Lake House", I experienced a movie that makes very little sense when examined, thought out, and re-organized. Nonetheless, it is a tribute to the film's engaging romantic spirit that none of these problems bothered me until after the closing credits had rolled.
Our two protagonists are likable people. Kate (Sandra Bullock) is a doctor at a Chicago hospital, a single woman who's momentarily in the "off" portion of an on again/off again relationship with a fairly thoughtless guy. Alex (Keanu Reeves) is also single, and is a contracter who has just moved into a lake house built by his father (Christopher Plummer). When Alex moves in, he finds a note in his mailbox from Kate, the previous tenant, who mentions a few odds n' ends and asks him to forward her mail. Alex is confused by the note, because as far as he knows, nobody has lived in the lake house for years. He sends a note in reply, suggesting she must be mistaken or confused. No, she is not, and she insists that she just moved out of the lake house recently. Those of us who have seen the film's trailer know the next revelation, and fortunately, the film allows our two leading characters to have the intelligence to figure things out quite quickly: they're two years apart in time. Kate is living in the present day, in 2006. Alex happens to be exactly two years behind, living in 2004. There is no explanation offered as to why this is happening, but there doesn't need to be.
The relationship between Alex and Kate develops with a great deal of fascination and warmth. Freed from the restraints of modern day relationships based on appearance and superficial games, they allow themselves to become more honest and intimate with each other in their letters. It's the little romantic touches that give "The Lake House" it's charms. She arranges for him to find something she left at a train station two years ago. He plants a tree, and it suddenly appears full-grown in front of her very eyes. The film explores a lot of different possibilities regarding time traveling, and it is naive, though very sweet, that all of them are in some way related to true romance.
The film's flaws are in it's plot, which makes several subtle mistakes of logic, and a few quite noticeable ones. Certain things that happen are impossible, based on the ground rules this film sets. For example, there's a charming scene that revolves around a lovely ballad by Paul McCartney. Only one problem: the scene is set in 2004, and the song was written in 2005. Sure, only fans of McCartney will notice, but how could the film's producers overlook such an error? Still, nearly every error that is made is made for the sake of a romantic gesture, which, in my book, is almost forgiveable.
The two leading performances here are what sell the film. Bullock and Reeves are both gently appealing as our star-crossed lovers trapped by time, offering little touches of honesty and sincerity that cause to care for them. I've said for years now that the greatest test any romance must pass is whether or not we care if the two characters get together. It doesn't matter if what's going on around them is funny, exciting, or whatever else, if we can't root for their relationship, the core of the film is carved out (see "The Break-Up" for an example of this). Here, while not reaching the level of romantic ecstasy reached by "Pride and Prejudice" last year, "The Lake House" makes us hope greatly for Alex and Kate to find a way to find each other, despite the time that keeps them apart. They are warm, likable, thoughtful, and intelligent people who are quite pleasant to spend time with.
Watching "The Lake House", I was reminded of how very few pure romances there are at the movies these days. Whenever something that resembles romance rolls along, the filmmakers generally decide to cover themselves by burying it under the conventions of another genre, most frequently comedies and thrillers. Here, despite the added element of time travel, we have a film centered around a sweet-natured love story, that doesn't rely on funny supporting characters, wacky subplots or serial killers to add interest. On paper, I shouldn't like the Lake House because of all it's technical flaws. But I liked the movie anyway, because it gets things right where it counts: the emotions are true, the characters are real, the romance is heartfelt. "The Lake House" earns a recommendation.
Rating: *** (out of four)
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