The Lake House (2006)

(On TV, March 2015) There’s an entire sub-genre of time-traveling romances by now, and few of them actually make any sense on any rigorous level.  The Lake House is among the more ludicrous of them, as a fantastical mailbox allows for a man and a woman separated by two years to somehow carry forward an epistolary romance.  The premise doesn’t make sense (and I’d urge you not to contemplate it any longer than necessary), but that doesn’t mean that the film is bereft of small pleasures.  Keanu Reeves still isn’t much for showing emotions, but he’s not entirely badly cast as the lead.  (Although my memories of his disastrous turn in Sweet November may be too recent to offer any kind of non-biased assessment.)  Meanwhile, Sandra Bullock is steady-as-she-goes in a rather undemanding role.  Much of the film’s effectiveness depends on whether you can simply respond to the star-crossed recipe and stop trying to find ways around their predicament.  If you can, there are a few sweet scenes here and there, most notably a tour of the city two years apart or a lost book finding its way back.  Would I be trying to reach for a deeper exploration of genre, I would probably use The Lake House as an example of way in which a familiar SF genre premise (transmission of information backward through time) is exploited non-rigorously by romance in order to illuminate a far more emotional premise (that is; lovers separated by insurmountable obstacles) without regard to the extrapolation techniques of hard-core genre fiction.  While that mechanism may drive SF genre fans crazy, it will work far better for Romance fans, because their expectations are being fulfilled.  Much in the same way than in a letter, sender and receiver have to be aligned…  

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