So. Those of you who know me well must have known this was coming. And those of you who don’t know me well but are regular readers of this blog might have guessed as well! I currently have a mild obsession with this film, after having watched it for the first time on Friday night. I wondered then, and I’m still wondering, why I haven’t seen it before! The silly thing is that I’ve owned the DVD for about ten years, but even then I never watched it. Even accounting for The Husband’s total aversion to any film that doesn’t include a) explosions and guns b) Jason Statham c) Nazis or d) any combination of the first three, it’s still ridiculous. So, I took myself off to the bath and watched it on my Kindle. An hour and half later, the bath water was stone cold and I was blubbing!
In a nutshell, The Lake House is a time slip romance between Kate, a doctor in 2006 and Alex, an architect in 2004. Their paths cross when Kate leaves a note for the next tenant of the Lake House, asking them to forward her mail. First confusion, and then chemistry grows between the pair as they realise that they are using the post box on the property as a kind of time machine, and that they are living two years apart. After a whole bunch of wibby wobbly timey wimey stuff that would have any self-respecting Doctor Who fan scratching their head, they eventually get the timings right and they meet, having fallen in love by time travelling letters.
This film wasn’t just a sweet story, it was gorgeously executed by the two leads. Sandra Bullock is brilliant as Kate, a woman who, by her own admission, feels ‘invisible’. Her vulnerability is juxtaposed with her medical brilliance, and she feels as though something is missing from her life. Likewise, Keanu Reeves plays Alex, elder son of a family of architects who has turned his back on the family firm to be more hands on. He has a troubled relationship with his father, who, we find out, built the Lake House.
What could potentially be an issue with a love story, the fact that the protagonists can never actually meet in their corresponding timelines, is skilfully navigated in this film. It’s done mainly by interlocking voiceovers, and then by fade in-fade out transitions when the pair are in the same place, albeit in their different timelines. They actually do meet at a couple of points, too, although only Alex is aware of who Kate really is. In one of the most romantic moments of the film, they have a heart to heart on the steps of the house Kate’s just moved into with her boyfriend, and end up sharing a dance and a kiss. It’s made all the more poignant because Alex is clearly already madly in love with Kate, and she, in her timeline, has only just met him. The two leads play it brilliantly, and they have such chemistry!
Other notable scenes include Kate playing chess with her dog Jack, who, strangely, straddles the two timelines (I think I might need to watch the film at least one more time to work out why this is), and the wonderful sequence when she’s talking a walk around Chicago using the map Alex has drawn for her as a guide. When she encounters a piece of graffiti he’s written to her, two years previously, it’s a real tearjerking moment.
Speaking of which, I have to mention another box of tissues moment when Alex loses his father. Keanu plays this so beautifully; Kate has sent Alex a copy of his father’s book, which hasn’t yet been published in his timeline, and when he sees a particular photo, the shock and the grief just hits him. If there’s one thing Keanu Reeves can play, it’s vulnerability, and he just falls apart. I defy any right thinking female (and probably a few right thinking males, too!) not to want to jump into the screen and give him a huge hug right there and then!
Of course, after a few bumps in the road (one literal bump in the road that makes heartbreaking sense about two thirds of the way through the film), things work out and they do eventually meet. And their kiss is utterly perfect. I might be a shameless romantic (I think my first novel, The Second Chance Tea Shop is testament to that!) but I think it’s a wonderful moment, and so lovely to see these two characters, and these two actors, sharing such a scene.
Finally, I think one of the reasons I loved this film so much, apart from the obvious, is that The Husband and I had a long distance relationship for eighteen months when we first met, and we wrote to each other at least three times a week for quite a few years, even when we were closer together. We still have all of the letters, about a hundred and fifty or so, and I love the fact that they chronicle our early days so well. Falling in love via the written word is a powerful thing; take it from one who knows.