The opening credit sequence of The Lake House, during which calligraphic letters overlap and burst into plumes of smoke, is the first of the film’s many charms. The story may be whitebread and cosmopolitan—perfect, then, for the Sex and the City fan club—but its visual textures are boundary-defying. Credit Argentinian director Alejandro Agresti, who treats the film’s initially specious premise seriously, almost matter-of-factly, validating it through intelligently considered compositions that evoke a sense of time shrinking in on itself. Living two years apart in the same lake house and sharing the same dog, Kate Forster (Sandra Bullock) and Alex Wyler (Keanu Reeves) begin to mysteriously communicate with each other through their malibox’s time-space warp. Agresti puts his characters at center frame, suspended but never really moving, unlike his camera, which pans gently from left to right in some scenes, right to left in others, so that the film conveys a profound sense of spirits gravitating toward each other across space. The moment Kate and Alex touch for the first time is divine, but ripe with more danger than excitement because Agresti’s camera, the way it stealthily crosses a line of poles to get a better look at the time-crossed couple only to then move away from them, foreshadows a journey of withdrawal as slow and perilous as their coming togther. Damn the film for its excessive literally references, its damaging Rachel Portman score, and an ending that isn’t nearly passionate or strong enough to excuse the suspension of belief it demands, but bless it for its overlapping visual textures, its real-world sense of dialgue punctuated with long, melancholic pauses, blithe spirit, and poetic consideration of life reaching out for life—here, there, and everywhere.
- Alejandro Agresti
- David Auburn
- Keanu Reeves, Sandra Bullock, Dylan Walsh, Shoreh Aghdashloo, Christopher Plummer, Willeke van Ammelrooy
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