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  ScoreBoard Forum

  The Lake House - a huge, whopping surprise  
 
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Cap Stewart
(adsl-150-225-251.tys.bellsouth.net)


  Responses to this Message:
Indy2003
  The Lake House - a huge, whopping surprise   Tuesday, June 20, 2006 (9:13 a.m.) 

The statement I am about to make isn’t grounded on objective observation, but I’m going to throw caution into the winds of personal feeling and say it anyway: The Lake House is the best movie of 2006. I know, we’re not even halfway through the year yet. I have no right making such a claim. But make it I will. Romances like this simply don’t come along every day…or year…or decade.

I’m not a big fan of chick flicks. The romance in these films is often superficial and unrealistic. As such, most modern cinematic love stories could be appropriately filed under the category of “fantasy.” The Lake House, interestingly enough, is a fantasy—and yet it reaches heights of relational realism that other films only dream about.

In the film, themes of self-control and waiting on romance (i.e., not rushing it) are poignantly woven into the story—especially during the third act (with a statement and plea from one of Kate’s last letters that almost had me in tears). Plot elements such as these are rare in common Hollywood fare, and here they are refreshingly welcome.

Another aspect that gives the film a healthy dose of reality is the genuine and solid performances of its two lead characters. (Yes, even Keanu Reeves is believable.) When either of them feel an emotion, we feel it right along with them. Supporting roles are solid as well, but the film rests squarely on the capable shoulders of Reeves and Bullock.

My biggest problem with the movie is a particular plot point (which I can’t explain without ruining the story) that takes place early on in the film. It blatantly reveals the climactic twist near the end. They might as well have put up a glowing neon sign saying, “This is where the movie is going.” I wish the filmmakers had found a more suitable—and subtle—plot point. (The problem might be with the original 2000 South Korean film Il Mare, on which The Lake House is based.) After seeing how the film is resolved, though, that problem becomes a minor distraction.

Film critic James Berardinelli thinks the ending has a tacky, tacked-on feel. I disagree. The resolution, while not airtight, is fitting and satisfying. Unlike the ill-conceived plot point mentioned above, the running themes (many of which revolve around the characters discussing Jane Austin’s book Persuasion) foreshadow the ending quite well. In fact, if the film ended differently, much of the dialogue and thematic thrust would have become meaningless.

To be honest, I can’t remember much of anything about Rachel Portman’s score. I think I noticed two distinct melodies, but that’s about it. The score is outweighed by a liberal use of songs (if my memory serves me correctly). I was so enthralled with the story that I really didn’t pay much attention to the music—songs or score.

The Lake House is the newest addition to my list of favorite movies. In fact, I give it a solid 11 out of 10. (Yes, numeric hyperbole.) If all romantic dramas were this good, I’d watch every single one of them. This is the must-see movie of the year. Forget big budget blockbusters. Go see The Lake House.

Cap

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Indy2003
(69.15.111.138)

  In Response to:
Cap Stewart

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Cap Stewart
  Re: The Lake House - a huge, whopping surprise   Wednesday, June 21, 2006 (11:44 a.m.) 

Hey Cap,

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)

Back at ya later


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Cap Stewart
(adsl-150-225-211.tys.bellsouth.net)

  In Response to:
Indy2003

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Indy2003
  Nice [minor spoiler alert]   Wednesday, June 21, 2006 (11:57 a.m.) 

Excellent job! Very good review.

> 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.

Just out of curiosity (in case you caught something I didn't), what are some more examples of this?

The one thing that confused me was, how did Alex get Kate’s book back to her? She finds it under the floorboards in her bedroom. Did I miss something? Did that make any sense to you?

Cap

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Indy2003
(69.15.111.138)

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Cap Stewart
  Re: Nice [minor spoiler alert]   Wednesday, June 21, 2006 (2:07 p.m.) 

> Excellent job! Very good review.

Why, thank you. :-)

> Just out of curiosity (in case you caught something I didn't), what are
> some more examples of this?

Well, for one thing, the conversations Alex and Kate had. They were constantly interrupting each other's sentences and the like, which wouldn't have really worked if they were writing letters to each others, unless they were sitting there watching each other's words appear magically one-by-one, which, I don't think they were doing. But for some reason, the McCartney song was bugging me more than anything else, and they kind of made it worse by playing the song over the end credits. Pretty song, though.

> The one thing that confused me was, how did Alex get Kate’s book back to
> her? She finds it under the floorboards in her bedroom. Did I miss
> something? Did that make any sense to you?

I guess he just put it there, and assumed that she would find it in such an obscure place, and that her current boyfriend would be too dense to bother looking in the floorboards. But, I don't know for sure. Ultimately, while a part of me wished that Spike Jonze and Charlie Kaufman had taken the material and run it off in an "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind"/"Being John Malkovich" direction, I can understand why that didn't happen... too much of the time travel topsy-turviness might distract too much from the sentiment, and ultimately, the movie is all about romance, with time separation as an interesting springboard.

Back at ya later


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