October 2, 2006

DVD Review: The Lake House

I am not among the sentimental types. I am not usually affected by romantic movies. However, every once in awhile one comes along that hits all the right notes and gets to me. The Lake House is a film that I found to be unexpectedly breathtaking, even if it is based on a central conceit that winds up as an inconsequential scientific impossibility. Wow, that was a mouthful.

The story centers on Kate Forster (Sandra Bullock) and Alex Wyler (Keanu Reeves). The former is a doctor who has thrown all of her time and energy into her work, leaving little room for a social life, much less any dating. This has left her alone and in an effort to combat that, she had spent time renting a house on a lake outside of Chicago. Upon leaving, leaves a note for the next tenant. We are then introduced to Alex, an architect seeking inspiration, he arrives at the home and reads Kate's letter. He responds, in a questioning manner, as some of the details seem to be off.

The two begin to trade letters through the mailbox at the house. They quickly realize that they are living two years apart. She actually lived in the home after him. She is in 2006 and he in 2004. Somehow they are able to communicate through the mailbox. Once you get past that unlikeliest of plot devices, you will settle into a delightful of romances. You will find yourself cheering for these two to get together despite the sea of time that separates them.

My biggest worry when I approached my viewing on DVD was that it wouldn't have the same magic as it did in the theater. Fortunately, my fears were unfounded. I found it to be just as magical this time as I did initially. The chemistry between the two stars was there, despite sharing very little screentime. I was just as amazed at how well the impossibilities of plot and potential loopholes are handled. Sure, they are still there, but the audience is expected to look past those things.

The Lake House is not a movie that is meant to be taken in such a linear or pragmatic way. This is a film about relationships and emotion. LEt go of trying to figure out the paradox of time travel, the impossibility of the mailbox, and let go of the facts. All that is at play here is the long distance relationship that develops between Kate and Alex. The film does not bog itself down with explanations or how none of it could really have happened, we are to accept that it does and move on.

I loved it, it is beautifully shot, well acted, has some nice underlying score, and in general is a sweet natured film with an lovely story to tell. So what if it isn't realistic, or any of that nonsense, this thrives on the magic that is the movies where the impossible is possible, and the possible is impossible. A world where things can happen for no other reason than they can.

Audio/Video. The technical aspects are good. The color palette has a muted look, and the transfer accurately reflects what I remember from the big screen. The image is presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1. The audio is in Dolby Digital 5.1, and sounds good. The surronds do not have a lot of activity, s everything is centered on the dialogue.

Extras. What a sad state of affairs this paltry selection is.
  • Theatrical Trailer. The original promo piece, and quite effective at that.
  • Deleted Scenes and Outtakes. Totaling less than 4 minutes, this "feature" is pretty much worthless. There is one outtake with Christopher Plummer, and a few cutting room floor snips that should have stayed there.

Where is the commentary? I would have loved a commentary with director Alejandro Agresti, screenwriter David Auburn, and/or the stars. How about a making of featurette? Something, anything more than what we got. This disk is pretty pathetic in that regard. Fortunately, it looks good.

Packaging. One last note before I wrap up on the packaging. The back has a photo that I would consider a spoiler, so that isn't so good. Even more importantly, the cover art is atrocious. First off it is another big head design that studios seem to love, then there is the fact that the images of Bullock and Reeves are airbrushed to the point of being unrecognizable. They have been "touched up" within an inch of their lives, they barely look like themselves. The same thing happened with the art for The 40 Year Old Virgin. Big heads are bad enough, airbrushing just makes the whole thing worse.

Bottomline. Alejandro Agresti has crafted a beautiful film, based on the Korean film Il Mare. It is a lovely tale of a fantasy romance through time. Again, I am not of overly sentimental stock, but this movie got to me in a way that no other movie of its type has in quite some time. I may even like it more now than I did on the big screen.

Highly Recommended.

Movie Rating:

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DVD Rating: (because of the lake of meaningful extras)
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