The perfect translation of a successful Asian movie to a Hollywood platform is usually dependent on producers and directors keeping in touch with the background that the movie came from. 'The Lake House', Alejandro Agresti's remake of South Korean film 'Il Mare', fails to enthral to such an extent that even the casual viewer can appreciate how easy it would have been to fall in love with the production had there been a convincing element of mystery thrown in. That aside, there are elements in the tale that could have made for a romantic classic.
Kate Forster (Bullock) is leading an isolated life. The medical student has been ambling through her lonely days, given solace only by her beloved dog and the intriguing lake house where she has been residing throughout her residency as a trainee doctor. A failed romance adds to her sense of unfulfilment. When she completes her residency she moves away from the lake house and back to Chicago. She leaves a note for the incoming resident describing one or two small peculiarities of the house.
The new resident is architect Henry Wyler (Reeves). He finds the letter and is strangely confused by it as he had recently purchased the house, which he believed had been deserted for a number of years previously. He replies to Forster's letter and, in subsequent correspondence, they discover that they are actually separated by two years of time.
Rather than investigate this unusual occurrence, they continue their correspondence for no apparent reason and begin to flirt and develop a relationship across the space/time continuum. As the two begin to develop stronger feelings for each other they grow frustrated at the time between them and attempt to make bring their separate lives together. With each failed effort Kate becomes more disillusioned, until she realises where all this has been heading and that she must act before she loses Henry forever.
Instead of a romantic epic, like this might have been, we are given a trundling yarn that leaves little to the imagination. Surely not, I hear you say - what about the endless possibilities for twists and turns that a time difference of two years could allow?
The possible twists are completely ruined by becoming so predictable that it is quite laughable when the characters express shock at their occurrence. The sense of mystery and romance that could have prevailed is completely lost by the drab dialogue and average acting.
Reeves is his wooden-as-ever self and Bullock still fails to convince that she is at home in anything other than an action blockbuster (her small role in 'Crash' being the notable exception). The limited use of Christopher Plummer, as Henry's father Simon, is curious, as is the underdevelopment of plot around him and the underuse of architecture as a symbol to explain the way that Henry feels about his life and surroundings.
What really grates though is the voiceovers of Bullock and Reeves as they read out their letters to each other. Neither seems at home with this style and there is a complete lack of chemistry between them. Magnets have been more attracted to each other.
'The Lake House' may serve as an escape from the World Cup excitement that has possessed most of the country but it is a far from enjoyable way to spend an evening.
Reeves and Bullock may have finally reunited since their steamy outing in 'Speed' but, given the quality of 'The Lake House', it may be some time before the duo take on Hollywood together again.