Thursday, October 19, 2006

The Lake House

This is a tough film to categorize, and must've been difficult to pitch to audiences: A sci film that's a romance. No, that pitch would scare off half the audience. Let's just call it a love story with a slight twist.

A lonely doctor (played by Sandra Bullock) who once occupied an unusual glass lakeside house in Chicago begins exchanging letters with its former resident, an architect, played by Keanu Reeves. The "twist" here is that Reeves lives in 2004, while Bullock inhabits 2006.

Let me flat-out say that this is one of the best films I've seen recently, and certainly the best-told love story in years. The movie is based on a Korean movie made in 2000, and has been updated for an American audience.

It's easy to say that this is Keanu Reeves' best work. Whoa. But it's also among Bullock's best pictures, although I've been a fan of hers for years. Two actors in their 40's actually make this work.

It's a thin premise, but it works because the lives of these two lonely people are revealed to us through scenes with their relatives and friends, and we get the feeling after awhile that we know them, empathize with them, feel with them. We see them develop, change, especially the Kate character played by Bullock. Kate settles for Dylan Walsh's Morgan in an effort to live in the here-and-now and change her life through assertion. The mistake reveals itself later when settling isn't enough and she still finds herself yearning for what cannot be.

Every scene brings a sense of wonder, of a sense that we really don't know what's going to happen. The inevitability of love lost, of yearning, builds and builds to an incredible degree, until the final scene.

It's beautifully filmed. I wasn't in love with Chicago, even though I visited once, until I saw this film. Funny that we don't see the Lake House much, supposedly the central piece of the movie. It's actually just a meeting place, the place of teleportation. It's not particularly beautiful, just unusual. But being glass, it's a great way to experience the seasons of Chicago pass you by.

This is a love story that gets it right, 'way beyond The Notebook. And it does it through shadings of personality, providing detail of their lives, good story telling, and truth.

Thumb's up.


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