Review: The Lake House

Oh, maaaaan, is this a dog awful movie.

Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock team up again in a romantic comedy drama about two people who inhabit the same glass house on the lake, two years apart. They discover it’s possible to communicate with one another through the mailbox which somehow spans space and time in a fancy version of passing notes back and forth in class. Alex is in 2004, Kate is in 2006. Early on, Alex writes to ask what it’s like “in the future.” Groan. That’s just the beginning.

Kate is an unhappy medical resident and Alex is an architect with a personal connection to the house. (“My father built this house, with his hands.”) They spend much of the movie physically apart, narrating their letters to one another, always an exciting film premise. As their correspondence continues, the pen pals discover their lives have intersected in the past and it all leads to a race against time to connect (and perhaps change history) before it’s too late.

Even if you wanted to buy into the movie’s premise, if you give it just fifteen seconds of thought the internal logic of the story falls apart and none of it makes sense. It’s totally ridiculous. All of this might have been forgivable if the chemistry between Bullock and Reeves wasn’t so tepid.

Bullock looks absolutely bored from start to finish. Reeves is an actor of such flat range that he makes Shakespeare sound like a high school play. In The Lake House, he’s positively crippled by a script that’s laughably bad. “I’m an architect. I like to build things,” and “Oh, we have a comedian! What, did you eat clown for breakfast?” When Sandra and Keanu aren’t forced to utter such gems, the script gives them passages of expository dialog that sounds as artificial as it is insulting to the audience.

The only redeeming facet of this film–and there is just one–is that Chicago has never looked better on the big screen. Director Alejandro Agresti and cinematographer Alar Kivilo have composed a love letter to the city and its architecture that comes off far better than anything else in the film. [* out of 5]

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