review for The Lake House on AllMovie

The Lake House (2006)
by Perry Seibert review

Love stories seem to always be about finding the right love at the wrong time. The Lake House takes that to heart by having the protagonists fall in love with each other even though they live in different times. Well, actually they do live at the same time, and even in the same place, only two years apart from each other. They exchange letters through a magic mailbox that allows the letters they exchange to transcend time. For a film with this fantastical a concept to work, the filmmakers need to figure out a couple of aspects. First, you either have to play the fantasy element to the hilt, leaving any semblance of reality, or you have to ground the film in a very familiar world and sprinkle just enough magical realism over it all that the audience buys in to the conceit. Director Alejandro Agresti opts mostly for the former, shooting everything with a gauzy beauty, and allowing the leads, Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock, to look beautiful even when the characters feel miserable. One of the other hurdles that the screenplay clears is figuring out how to get the two characters to share the screen even though their individual stories transpire in different timelines. Luckily, the best scene of the movie brings the two of them face to face right in the middle of the film, and the actors smartly underplay the scene. Reeves and Bullock do have excellent chemistry together, her all-American girl-next-door appeal grounds his physical beauty, and when the two do get to be in the same place at the same time the film fulfills its goals, even if the occasionally sluggish setup might not be as gripping. The Lake House does not have the authority to make a viewer suspend disbelief, but anyone willing to shut that off on their own will enjoy it.