A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the movie includes some sad spots where the wannabe romantic partners can't meet for years, only exchange letters. A young man fights with his father, then the father dies, which makes the son cry. A bus accident kills a pedestrian (you hear crash and see prone body afterwards) and upsets a female doctor who's on the scene. Characters drink in bars and at parties. A woman kisses a man who's not her fiancé, who's upset when he catches them.
What's the story?
At the start of this romance film, Kate (Sandra Bullock) and Alex (Keanu Reeves) exchange letters via a magic mailbox at the titular Chicago area lake house. He has just moved into the house, and she has just moved out. The rub is, he's living in 2004 and she's in 2006. As Kate and Alex fall in love, they also realize they are living in different years. They accept this oddity and begin to plot ways to find one another across time. When Alex tracks Kate down in 2004, before she knows he exists, Kate is engaged to an over-controlling man and wishing she knew someone more like Alex. Kate tells him she loves Jane Austen's Persuasion (a book about waiting), they look deeply into one another's eyes and share a camera-swirling kiss. And then: pffft. Though he knows who she is, Alex doesn't pursue Kate, leaving her to be unhappily engaged, as he is unhappy with himself. Here the structure of the film changes from their pensive voice-over letter writing into conversation as they go about their separate, split-screened lives.
Is it any good?
Evocative and sometimes lovely, THE LAKE HOUSE is all about waiting. While this refers to the central couple, it also affects viewers, who must wait for alternately obvious and illogical plot points to be resolved. Occasionally rewarding, this slow movement is sometimes annoying, and the switch from letter-writing-voice-over to conversation-and-split-screen is simply awkward.
Perhaps most disappointing is the movie's feeble use of the wondrous Shohreh Aghdashloo (X-Men:The Last Stand) as Anna, Kate's supervisor. When Anna observes that this mystery man "must write one hell of a letter" to warrant so much mooning, the movie briefly exposes its sense of humor. But his letters ("I'll find a way to be close to you, to take care of you") sound more like a Lifetime movie than Jane Austen.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the idea of falling in love through letters (or online!): what sorts of things do you learn about someone else through writing that you often don't learn face to face? What traits make Kate and Alex appealing to one another, even though they haven't seen each other? How can waiting and patience make relationships, whether romantic or familial, seem more worthwhile?
- In theaters: June 16, 2006
- On DVD or streaming: September 26, 2006
- Cast: Christopher Plummer, Keanu Reeves, Sandra Bullock
- Director: Alejandro Agresti
- Studio: Warner Bros.
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy
- Run time: 888 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: some language and a disturbing image
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