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Thursday, June 15, 2006 02:50 am

Return to sender

Need a headache? See The Lake House.

Alejandro Agresti’s The Lake House is a ludicrous love story about a gloomy Gus, a negative Nancy, and a magic mailbox. Based on a Korean science-fiction romance, House offers an idealized notion of what makes a successful match, one rife with flowery language, convenient circumstances, and a happily-ever-after ending that’s as leaden as an anvil and as satisfying as a bowl of warm gruel. Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock play a couple separated not by social station or physical distance but by time — two years, to be exact. Kate (Bullock) has just packed up and is leaving the unique lake house she’s been renting when she decides to leave a note in the mailbox asking the next tenant to forward her mail if any of it arrives. Alex (Reeves) is that tenant, sort of; he finds the letter, but it happens to be two years earlier than when Kate left it. Thus they begin a correspondence, leaving letters in the mailbox for each other. Yeah, I don’t get it, either. But that’s only one of many things that are inexplicable about this story. No explanation is ever given as to how this all might be happening and why Kate would return to her former home and conveniently find Alex’s reply. And do I even try to unravel the conundrum of how they are able to arrange meetings two years in the future (wait . . . that would be Alex’s future and Kate’s present, I think). And how in the hell did Alex’s dog become Kate’s dog? Argh — my head hurts when I try to sort this all out. The bottom line is that I shouldn’t even be thinking of all of these things and should be swept away by the wonder of it all. However, instead of being wrapped up in the fates of Alex and Kate, I was picking the flimsy script by David Auburn apart, taking glee in noting one ludicrous element after another. Of course, a bit of chemistry between Bullock and Reeves might have distracted me from the gaping holes in the story. The former gives a one note — no, make that a two-note — performance, sad and sadder; the latter continues to make planks look expressive with yet another wooden turn.
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