Keanu’s Magic Mailboxes

The Lake House

Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock star in a film based on Eun-Jeong Kim’s movie Siworae, adapted by David Auburn, and directed by Alejandro Agresti.

Reviewed by D.J. Palladino

It’s too bad this film can’t make up its mind between art house and Hollywood. And not just because it throws away its potential delivery of rich thematic relationship observations — a problem so obvious that I immediately began wondering how other directors like M. Night Shyamalan or Wong Kar Wai might have attacked the same fable fare. (Answer: No happy ending.)

But the most immediate disappointment is that this mediocre film contains the first completely winning performance by Keanu Reeves I have ever watched. Sitting on a porch with Sandra Bullock — who seems to reduce the dimensions of every thought that approaches her — Reeves keeps pulling out resources and emotions I never believed were there. Sure the old opacity remains, but he’s surprisingly tender and reserved, too. Instead of the usual baritone staccato, his voice bristles with the surprising moments of spontaneity. He’s still a hunk with wounded eyes, but he actually cries in this movie.

I didn’t, though. Maybe it was because the film is too realistic in detail to support its magic time travel plot. It almost feels like a period piece set in contemporary times. Argentinean director Alejandro Agresti fills the screen with solemn beauty, whether it be Chicago skyscrapers or tangled woods, but the romance is overrun by Hollywood timing. Based on a Korean film of famous gracefulness, everything seems to happen faster than an audience can digest significance, like a trick. I kept wondering if the film’s illogic was at least consistent, and that’s always bad news for love stories with magic mailboxes.

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