No one has spent as much time on screen jumping from dimension to dimension as Keanu Reeves. All the way back to Bill and Ted’s excellent time traveling adventures through to Neo in the Matrix and Constantine his characters have tripped the light fantastic, jumping from one plane to the another. His latest film, The Lake House, is a romance so you’d think that all the time shifting mumbo jumbo would be put aside, but think again. In The Lake House Reeves and co-star Sandra Bullock have the ultimate long distance relationship.
Based on Lee Hyeon-seung’s 2000 Korean film Il Mare, The Lake House is the story of Bullock, a forlorn doctor and Reeves, a frustrated architect. In common they have a beautiful house on a quiet lake. It’s been in his family for years and she has rented it while interning at a nearby hospital. When she moves out she leaves a courtesy note in the mailbox asking the owner to forward any mail that may get misdirected to that address. An exchange of letters begins and it becomes obvious that something is off. Somehow our leads have been swept into a time tunnel—he’s living in 2004, she’s in 2006. Unlike the last time they shared a marquee—1994’s Speed—there is no madman on a speeding bus to keep them apart. This time it’s meta-physical.
Meta-physical romance isn’t a new genre—there have been others like Frequency and Somewhere in Time—but the thing all those movies have in common is the difficulty of keeping the romance passionate when the two leads are rarely in the same time zone. The Lake House makes the best use of that sense of longing for something that may, or may not be real, and tries hard to generate some heat between the Bullock and Reeves. Their physical encounters should appeal to the romantics in the audience who will be rooting for them to figure out the physics and get together.
The Lake House has a bit of a tone problem in trying to tell too many stories at once. The addition of Christopher Plummer—who might enjoy a little mustard with his hammy performance—as an uncaring father gets in the way of the magical romance. On the plus side the movie has a slow, deliberate style and despite some editing that seems like it was borrowed from a 1980s wedding video, unfolds into a passionate romance.