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Movie Review

The Lake House
a.k.a. Il Mare

MPAA Rating: PG for some language and a disturbing image

Reviewed by: Sheri McMurray
CONTRIBUTOR

Better than Average
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults, Teens
Genre:
Romance, Drama, Fantasy
Length:
1 hr. 38 min.
Year of Release:
2006
USA Release:
June 16, 2006 (wide)
Copyright, Warner Bros.
Copyright, Warner Bros.
Copyright, Warner Bros.
Copyright, Warner Bros.
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Warner Bros.

What is true love and how do you know when you have found it? Answer

Sex, Love and Relationships
Learn how to make your love the best it can be. Christian answers to questions about sex, marriage, sexual addictions, and more. Valuable resources for Christian couples, singles and pastors.
Featuring: Keanu Reeves, Sandra Bullock, Christopher Plummer, Shohreh Aghdashloo, John Corbett, Ebon Moss-Bachrach, Willeke van Ammelrooy, Dylan Walsh, Lynn Collins
Director: Alejandro Agresti
Producer: Bruce Berman, Doug Davison, Robert Kirby, Roy Lee, Sonny Mahli, Sonny Mallhi, Mary McLaglen, Geoff Shaevitz, Greg Silverman, Erwin Stoff
Distributor: Warner Bros.

“How do you hold on to someone you’ve never met?”

Copyrighted, Warner Bros.

Where do you see heaven? In the grass and the trees? The expanse of the dessert sky at sundown? The roar of distant thunder? In the glow off the lake in the summer sun? God has placed a little bit of Heaven everywhere so that we may know it exists. All we have to do is be available to see it. As Chesterton wrote, “It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike. It may be that God makes every daisy separately but has never got tired of making them. Hence, the repetition in nature may not be a mere recurrence but a theatrical encore.”

And so it is with each new couple who finds true love… some in the most profound ways…

Needing to get away from the city, Alex Wyler (Keanu Reeves in a solid performance as a guy who is adrift in life) rents an old run down house on stilts, on a lake not far from Chicago. The son of a world renowned Architect, Simon Wyler (Christopher Plummer), Alex has fallen into being an Architect himself, but on a much more conservative level—he puts up condos. Alex, in renting the worn, but lovely glassed in house, finds a sort of reclusive peace in it’s efficient structure.

Alex’s father is a distant man who hasn’t spoken to Alex in many years. Always was too busy becoming famous to take any interest in Alex or his younger brother Henry (Ebon Moss-Bachrach), Simon Wyler is more a name on a page in the prominent Architectural Digest than a father.

Firmly set in the gravel next to the dock which leads over the lake to the house is the mailbox. Worn and faded, but having a red flag that soon will take Alex on a wonderful journey…

Soon after deciding to move into the city from the pleasant lake house she’d been renting, Dr. Kate Forester (an extremely likeable, as ever-- Sandra Bullock) has second thoughts. She returns to place a note in the little mailbox to let the new tenant know her forwarding address, but it seems she’s used the trip back to the lake house as an excuse to say goodbye one more time to the serenity she knew there.

Alex feels compelled to write Kate back a thank you, and to correct her mistake of putting the year 2006 on her correspondence, when he knows it’s really 2004. Soon after he drops his note off for the mailman to pick up from his mailbox, Kate returns and notices the red flag is up. On a whim, she checks inside and finds the note addressed for her. She opens it and is annoyed he is correcting her date, when everyone knows it’s really 2006. She hurriedly writes a curse note back to Alex, leaves it in the mailbox and turns to leave.

As if pushed by an unseen hand, the red flag on the mailbox goes up with a squeak. Kate carefully returns to the faded old mailbox to investigate. With a bit of hesitation she opens the door and looks inside. A NEW NOTE has appeared ! Confused, she reads this new note addressed to her from Alex. Feeling a bit crazy, but too curious to let it ride, Kate hurriedly writes a note back to Alex and places it within the mailbox… and puts up the squeaky red flag. In no time, down the red flag goes and she opens the door to find yet another NEW NOTE addressed to her from Alex!

From this point on the “magic mailbox” ties Alex and Kate together in ways each never would have imagined. Through their notes they question, to their amazement, are they actually living 2 years apart? Unimaginable as it may seem, they begin to accept that fact and become close friends. Knowing the innermost hurts, joys, and day-to-day thoughts of the other.

As Kate and Alex continue to correspond through the lake house’s mailbox they confirm that they are, incredibly, impossibly, living two years apart, and each at a time in their lives when they are struggling with past disappointments and trying to make a new start. Sharing this unusual bond, they reveal more of themselves to one another with each passing week—their secrets, their doubts and dreams, until they find themselves falling in love

They fall in love for all the right reasons. Because they have taken the time to get to know each other by listening and opening up. All this without even knowing what the other looks like. How very refreshing.

Determined to bridge the distance between them at last and unravel the mystery behind their extraordinary connection, they arrange to meet. But, by trying to join their two separate worlds, as the trailer cautions, “they could risk losing each other forever.”

Based on a 2000 Korean film called “`Il Mare”, this movie is a time traveling romance which works on a more emotional and spiritual level, rather than on the temporal or through logic. If it were realistic and logical that would take all the romantic enjoyment out of it. “The Lake House” takes us through all sorts of twists and turns within the plot, but it is the romantic course, constantly spinning with questions as to whether or not these two people will ever be able to meet across time, that keeps us on the edge of our seats.

Rating it PG is correct as there are two times we see characters drinking in Chicago bars and twice where profanity is uttered in the form of h*ll and the Lord’s name in vain, whispered ‘Christ.’ God, or prayer for the perfect partner is never mentioned, although at the end the Kate character does kneel and clasps her hands as if in prayer, in her sincere desire to meet Alex. Too bad, because the rest of the film is sweet and clean, with no nudity or sexy love scenes. The two main characters who fall deeply in love, because of the time travel distance only get to kiss twice! I would feel fine taking even my pre-teen to this film, the story is exiting and easy to understand, the characters are likeable and even warmly familiar. I would go as far as to say “The Lake House” could turn out to be a romantic modern classic, in the Ghost-Princess Bride-Somewhere In Time class. Such movies believe that love can break through time, and I as a hopeless romantic, believe it, too!

To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And Heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour
—William Blake

“Patience” is the key word which drives this film. Waiting for the one you love, even if it takes years, is a wonderful concept to deal with in this time of sexual subversion and unwholesome ideas about sexuality. Knowing the one you love in an emotional, even intellectual way BEFORE an intimate way is a message so very needed these days. I was absolutely thrilled to see this idea put across in a subtle, gentle way, without being “hokey.”

I also strongly recommend “Echoes Of Innocence” which can be rented at local outlets or online. It’s message of abstinence is told with a modern twist meant for every pre-teen and teenager who needs the story told with a Christian spark without being preachy. (See this site for our exclusive review of “Echoes Of Innocence”.)

“The Lake House” is NOT a chick flick. It is NOT a comedy. And it is NOT one of those over the top everybody-these-days-has sex-on-a-first-date movies that seems to be coming off the Hollywood assembly line these days. It is an almost fairy tale look at love before sexual contact. We are swept up in the story and enjoy the outcome. It tells us that its right to get to know someone BEFORE you even touch them! I applaud that and pray moviegoers come out to see this film and put the so-called movie critics to shame who are putting it down for being so unbelievable. Well, dah, it’s fiction guys. So is Steven King stuff, but you give those dark-from-hell-foul-with-no-base-in-fact flicks you’re A+ approval all the time. Go figure.

One of the basic first questions we ever ask ourselves is “what is love?” then “what is TRUE love?” then to go yet further, “What is true love to me?” Man or woman ponders this question. We all search our hearts for the answer at some point in our lives. Asking opens the door to the heart, prayer opens the door to God which, in turn opens the heart to the world of romantic emotions (and beyond, as is the case in “The Lake House”) for the answer. God orchestrates it all, and I believe He can give a person true love in any way, shape or form He so desires.

If we are willing to wait, God will provide. He knows what we need better than we know ourselves:

Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days. Give a portion to seven, or even to eight, for you know not what evil may happen on Earth.

If the clouds are full of rain, they empty themselves on the Earth; and if a tree falls to the south or to the north, in the place where the tree falls, there it will lie. He who observes the wind will not sow; and he who regards the clouds will not reap.

As you do not know how the spirit comes to the bones in the womb of a woman with child, so you do not know the work of God who makes everything.

In the morning sow your seed, and at evening withhold not your hand; for you do not know which will prosper, this or that, or whether both alike will be good.

Light is sweet, and it is pleasant for the eyes to behold the sun. For if a man lives many years, let him rejoice in them all…
Ecclesiastes 11:1-8

If you liked “Ghost” or “Untamed Heart” or “What Dreams May Come” or hey, even “Back To The Future” you’re gonna like “The Lake House”.

Violence: None / Profanity: Minor / Sex/Nudity: None


Viewer Comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—Without a doubt, one of the most touching romances I have ever seen, “The Lake House” is unique in the sense that there is nothing wrong with it. The message is one of patience, of a willingness to wait for as long as it takes to find the right person, and make no compromises. The characters grow to love and respect one another through letters, falling in love through the sharing of thoughts, and tender little moments of self-sacrifice.

I have treasured many movies over the years, but this one has taken a position of honor among the others. I took different friends and family to see it several times, and in each instance, the response was the same—perfect. Absolutely perfect. Don’t miss this film. You will treasure it as a rare exception to the sex-saturated, rushed romances of our time.
My Ratings: Good / 4
Charity Bishop, age 23
Positive—“The Lake House” was not like any movie I’ve seen before. It offered great acting and beautiful cinematography displaying Chicago at it’s best. Although the story was not believable, the characters were. You’ll need to be on your toes to keep the dates straight, but it starts to fall into place quickly. The thing I loved most about the movie is that is was “smart.” The director didn’t explain everything for you throughout the whole movie. Instead, you’re left to guess or figure things out for yourself. I love that about a movie! Don’t let the PG rating fool you. This movie is not for kids or pre-teens, the storyline is too complicated, and there are a few bad words. The movie did not have any sex, violence, diverse characters, or anything overly offensive. Great chic flick. Overall, I would recommend this movie for Christians who like to escape to the movies!
My Ratings: Better than Average / 4
—Diana O’Reilly, age 37
Positive—This was the first movie that I have ever gone to by myself. I found it entertaining and beautiful. I believe that both of the main characters portrayals were heart-felt. I also liked the way that this movie made you think. I know that I can be impatient and I left the theatre feeling a sense of, “if I just wait then good things will happen.” Although the movie spoke nothing of God on a Christian perspective I really felt that it was saying that with God all things are possible. I highly recommend this movie for couple’s, singles, friends, and older teens. I feel that the messages in the movie are too complex for the younger audience.
My Ratings: Good / 4
—Sharon, age 29
Positive—I found this to be an extremely touching love story! Not at all your typical chick flick as I had thought! I think my husband would have enjoyed this movie! It brought a lot of different aspects from Kate and Alex’s lives and really made you feel like you knew them a little bit. You really were rooting for them to find each other at last and find happiness! I think this is one to own, and I definitely recommend it for those looking for the next beautiful love story!
My Ratings: Good / 4
—Shannon, age 25
Positive—I love Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves and to see them together again was wonderful. I have been waiting for the movie to come out for months and I was not disappointed. I hated to see it end, but was happy with the ending. They are such good actors and made it seem so real. Men might not enjoy it as much, since it is more of a chick flick. I’m glad I went by myself because you really have to pay attention and remember who was in which time. I recommend this movie to Christians or anyone that can keep up with it and wants to enjoy a day at the movies.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 5
—Darlene McDaniel, age 58
Positive—This is a great, clean, romantic film. Although I did not think this was Sandra’s best role, she is always fun to watch. The story is unique and leaves you wondering just “how did that happen,” but also leaves you feeling very pleased. Filmed in Chicago, there’s great scenery and city references as well as just a great story.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 4
—Debbie, age 31
Positive—I enjoyed watching “The Lake House”. It was encouraging to see a movie that wasn’t splattered throughout with sensuality and innuendos. There were only about 2-4 curse words. The D** word, H*** word, and Chr***. No sex scenes. Two shorts moments when there is light kissing of the two persons who genuinely love each other. I would not hesitate to go and enjoy this movie with my family.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 2
—Pastor David McDaniel, age 34
Positive—When I sat down to watch this movie, I just wanted a somewhat happy PG movie. When I left the theatre, I was overjoyed! I had expected to see an average romance, and I walked out encouraged in my Christian values. The main saving message of this movie is, “Wait.” That is a theme that is given little screen time in this day and age, and when it is, it is usually treated with disrespect.

Granted, this movie will make your mind do mental olympics, but for the most part it is part of the fantasy of the film. The acting, directing, and music was truly stellar. There are a few words here and there that are objectionable, but other than that there was nothing that left me struck me as offensive. Both my father and brother were able to come view the movie as well, without my feeling embarrassed as to what they would see on the screen. How often does a romantic drama like that come along?! At the end of the film I had one thought: “This is the perfect valentine movie.”
My Ratings: Good / 4
—Carolyn, age 20
Positive—This was such a thoroughly enjoyable movie to watch. The story was very unique, the characters were engaging, and I was surprised at how emotionally moved I was. The movie was very clean (although a couple words surprised me for a PG rating), and I would definitely see it again. Highly recommended, especially for Sandra Bullock fans.
My Ratings: Good / 4
—Becky, age 28
Positive—My friend and I watch this movie along with “Pirates of the Caribbean 2”, yesterday. We both thought this was the better film. It was a clean, inspiring and heartwarming film. “The Lake House” told me that there was nothing wrong with waiting to find the right person. …It wasn’t like the typical Hollywood films were they meet in a bar, have a few drinks, sleep together on the first date and then get to know each other. The movie was about getting to know each other first, even if it was thru writing letters. They had to face challenges, but were able to do it together. That’s what I really liked about the film, the fact that they got to know each other and when a problem arose, they fought it together. …The acting was fantastic, not surprising though for Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves. Definitely a good film for friends or mothers and daughters.
My Ratings: Good / 4
—Aleshia Horner, age 18
Positive—It was amazing! I was pretty anxious to see those two together again after all these years since “Speed.” I’m a huge fan of both. And my expectations weren’t failed. Great story, superb acting. I was so touched by it that I just couldn’t stop crying at the end. It wasn’t hard getting it. I understood it from the beginning. Also, no heavy immorality, no nudity, no sex, though it’s a love story. There is that 2004 kiss between Kate and Alex (and she was with another man), implied sexual relations between Kate and that man (she’s in a robe, watching TV, and we can see her bra, and we know later that she was living with that man). That is wrong: having relations outside marriage but it wasn’t very graphic. But, I just couldn’t get upset by all that when the story was so impressive, so touching, so real (in a way). And the lesson is just clean: wait for someone if you love him/her; don’t rush into action; get to know him/her; share a true love.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 5
—Alexandra, age 20
Neutral
Neutral—I recently saw this movie, and was really looking forward to it after reading all the positive reviews on this site. Having seen it, I am disturbed that no one here pointed out the obvious negatives in it. There are not just two sweet kisses between people that love each other—the first takes place while Kate is involved with, apparently living with, another man. We may not like him very much, but that doesn’t justify her kissing other people—“some random guy,” as she termed it. There also is a kiss between her and her former boyfriend, after she gives up on waiting for Alex.

Previously in the movie, she spelled out the reasons why she didn’t stay in a relationship with him, but she gets right back together with him with all that unresolved, and while in love with another man to boot! (Granted, she was in a somewhat depressive state, but still.) Apparently, he just moved right into her apartment with her. They had been living together, with no intention of marriage, for well over a year, when the climax at the end happens. The movie talked a lot about waiting, but while Alex did, Kate didn’t.

The sad thing is, I did enjoy the movie, once I was able to mentally accept the time difference premise. It was generally sweet, and I did root for Kate and Alex to find each other. It was well-acted and produced. It certainly is cleaner than most so-called romance movies, but it did not promote Christian values by any stretch of the imagination. Why should we, as Christians, be so delighted with the lesser of the evils?
My Ratings: Average / 2
—Amy, age 38
Negative

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Comments from young people
Positive—As soon as I heard about this movie, I knew I would enjoy it. I wasn’t disappointed, not at all. How beautiful it is to see a movie about true love, not lust. I can’t even enjoy most romantic comedies out there because of the moral depravity of the characters and the story in general, but both of those aspects in this film deserved two thumbs up! The filmmaking was excellent too; the acting especially seemed so real, so believable. Aside from some drinking and mild profanity (which was so much less than most movies nowadays), it was flawless. It touched me so much, I even cried—not something I usually do in movies. I don’t know if this movie would appeal to guys as much, but I encourage everyone to give it a chance.
My Ratings: Good / 5
—Elizabeth Goldsmith, age 17
Positive—Seeing “The Lake House”, I was presently surprised. It only had a few cuss words and no sex scenes/talking. If you like movies that constantly move, I would not suggest buying a ticket to see this movie in the theatres. It went slow in some parts and seemed kind of long, but overall it was a great movie!
My Ratings: Better than Average / 4
—Alexis, age 14
Positive—This movie was amazing, Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock have great on screen chemistry. If your a technical detailed person then you shouldn’t go see this move, because it WILL get confusing. Some times the movie drags a little, but otherwise it’s a great movie. I recommend going and seeing this with a friend, especially if you’re girls. It’s very romantic, and I even cried in some parts. This is a great movie!!!
My Ratings: Better than Average / 4
—Sarah, age 16
Positive—I really enjoyed this movie because there was pretty much nothing wrong in it. I wouldn’t recommend it to younger children, because it is sort of hard to understand. But I would definitely say this movie is worth your eight dollars
My Ratings: Excellent! / 3
—Maggie, age 13
Positive—This movie is like no other love story. It has an amazing and very creative plot. I thought it was very good. There was great acting and great music. Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock were fantastic. It might be confusing at first, but after a while you get it. I would recommend this movie for ages 11 and up. Only because younger children would probably get confused at most parts and not get it at all. There were some curse words and they definitely could have done without them. People used God’s name in vain a couple of times. Otherwise, this movie is very good.
My Ratings: Good / 4
—Carolyn, age 13
Positive—I think this movie was one of the best that I’ve seen! The only reason I give it a 4 is because of the occasional swear word. It’s a movie that makes you think and it’s a good romance. I loved how Sandra Bullick’s character cared about someone she only knew through letters, that she saved him. It was a great movie, overall, and one I would love to see again.
My Ratings: Excellent! / 4
—Sarah, age 14