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Lake House leaves viewers unsatisfied

Cassie Belek | Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Bombs on buses equal movie magic for Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves. Houses on lakes do not. In the duo’s follow-up to 1994’s thriller “Speed,” the two fail to recreate the chemistry from their electrifying bus-ride and instead float through a melancholy romance with mind-numbing plot twists and a shared canine.

Argentinean director Alejandro Agresti cannot be blamed for Reeves’ typical wooden performance, but the movie itself defies all logic of the time-space continuum. Kate (Bullock) is a lonely doctor living in 2006. Alex (Reeves) is a lonely architect living in 2004. They both live in the same glass lake house. Through the intervention of a magical mailbox of love and the aforementioned dog they apparently share, the two begin a correspondence and form an emotional bond as they empathize with the other’s misery. This bond turns to love, but it seems impossible that the two will ever meet. Throw in a plot twist here and there, and all logic collapses. Get past this, and the film can be enjoyable.

“The Lake House” aims to be a true long-distance romance that knows no barriers, but it is unsuccessful in this attempt. The glass lake house represents the emptiness and isolation in the protagonists’ lives, but it could also represent the emptiness of the movie. Something is amiss, and it very well may be the characters themselves. Alex and Kate are such sad, morose human beings that it’s difficult to see why they are attracted to each other. Perhaps it’s best that they fall in love through letter-writing because if they appeared to each other face to face, they would be thoroughly depressed after a few minutes of conversation. Smiles are rare and laughter is non-existent. The characters lack the chemistry that would be imperative for a normal relationship, but fortunately for them, this deficiency is disguised in flowery language and moving anecdotes.

The DVD extras are sparse, with five deleted scenes, outtakes and a theatrical trailer. Clearly a box office bomb, producers wasted no time making the DVD anything special. However, an explanation of what led Bullock and Reeves to make this movie, out of all others, would have been worthwhile.

Truth be told, the movie would not be as disappointing if it had starred other actors. This Bullock-Reeves reunion appeared out of thin air and did not pack the same hype as its predecessor did. Naturally, no one was expecting to recapture the glory of “Speed,” especially with a straight-up romance, but the fact that it is Bullock and Reeves in this movie sets it up for an even bigger fall. The pair would have been wiser to choose a vehicle similar to that of “Speed,” but the damage is now done and it is doubtful that the two will act together again after this failure.

Even with the lack of chemistry and absence of logic, “The Lake House” has potential to be saved. However, a predictable ending coupled with an impossible plot dooms the movie from the beginning. But the glass lake house is pretty to look at, and so is Bullock. Even in a flop, the actress appeals to audiences, letting us root for Alex and Kate to end up together, if only to see Bullock flash a dazzling smile. However, “The Lake House” has too many inconsistencies, and no amount of Sandra Bullock can turn it into a memorable and compelling romance.