Saturday, October 07, 2006

The Lake House (2006)

36The Lake House doesn't fall into a genre I really appreciate: for some reason most rom-coms or 'chick flicks' just leave me stone cold. So I was pleasantly surprised that the film held my attention throughout, and although I wouldn't say it's a film I'd particulary want to see again, it's nowhere near as bad as some of the critical reviews had lead me to believe.

Probably more of a 'date movie', than a rom-com per se, the idea of taking the traditional 'boy and girl fall in love but seem destined never to meet' story (for the girls) and then introducing a sort of science fiction time-travel twist (for the boys) is quite a good one. If you swallow the central conceit, and can happily suspend disbelief from the get-go, you're in for quite an enjoyable ride, at least from the basic story point-of-view. Unfortunately the ending 'twist' does rely somewhat on you not spotting a clue in the first act (I didn't!) so I guess your closing judgement will depend on whether or not you've predicted the ending an hour before it arrives!

The cliched 'good looking but lonely' single guy and lonely single girl live alone in the lake house of the title, but separated by a two year time period. Through a device that's thankfully quickly explained and dismissed, they find themselves corresponding via a postal box that seems to transport their messages between the two time periods. To further bond the couple it seems they are both owners of the same dog. Yes, it's all very silly, but have you ever seen a rom-com that wasn't?!

What makes the film just about sufferable for guys is that some of the twists caused by the time travel are quite nicely done, and the movie doesn't take itself too seriously. Plus Keanu Reeves isn't quite as wooden and as hopeless an actor as he usually is!

Unfortunately the film does fall down somewhat because of a lack of chemistry between the two lead actors, the afore-mentioned Reeves and his partner from Speed, Sandra Bullock. Part of the problem is that they're physically separate for most of the film's running time, but even when they're together in the same time period there's a distinct lack of fizz between them. The 'madly in love' situation is made even more unbelievable because of the casting of Dylan Walsh (best known as the 'sensible' partner in Nip/Tuck) as Bulloch's boyfriend, who supposedly lacks the spark that she is looking for, but comes across as sexier, better looking and far more committed than Reeves ever does. The script really should have made him more of a heel, instead of relying on one night of him working late and a restaurant reservation that he didn't plan ahead enough to try and make the audience believe Bulloch's character will be better off choosing someone else. As it is, Walsh's handling of their affair over the two year period, particularly when he finds his girlfriend kissing a stranger she's only just met, makes him far more the 'hero' of the piece (and hence Bulloch's character the 'villain') than the author and directors can surely have intended.

As is becoming the norm where a DVD release is made within weeks of the original theatrical release, The Lake House is pretty much a vanilla release. There are five deleted scenes (one is actually an out-take) and a trailer and that's it. This is also one of those annoying releases where one has to scroll through pages of languages to find the United Kingdom, only to realise that all this really does is force that wretched 'anti piracy' trailer on you as reward.

It's good to see the rom-com formula given a new idea, and although The Lake House doesn't really exploit the idea as much as it should, it's an enjoyable enough 90 minutes. But it's definitely a 'rental' rather than a 'purchase'.

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