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How does a person go about finding their one, true love? Is finding that special someone just a coincidence of timing and geography, or is does fate play a large part in matching this person with that person? I’m not about to try and give an answer to my own lofty question in this review, but if you were to ask the characters of The Lake House they might have plenty of good reasons to tell you the latter seeing as their timing couldn’t be any worse.

The Lake House
As Dr. Kate Forster (Sandra Bullock) moves out of a beautiful lake house where she’s been living for a new job in Chicago, she leaves a note for the new tenant asking him to please forward her mail and informing him of a few of the home’s peculiarities, including some paw prints along the front walkway and a box in the attic. The new tenant, Alex Wyler (Keanu Reeves), noticing no such prints or box, disregards it until a few days later when a stray dog runs across his freshly painted walk leaving paw prints exactly where Kate said they would be in her letter. Astonished and a bit confused he writes back, but soon Alex and Kate discover that they are actually living exactly two years apart—Alex in 2004 and Kate 2006. Continuing their correspondence through the magical, time bending mailbox the two begin to fall in love, but how on earth are they ever going to meet?

The Lake House, being pure romantic fantasy, doesn’t hold up well when you dwell too much on the plot, and as well it shouldn’t seeing as the cornerstone of the movie is a magical mailbox that sends letters across time. Knowing this full well, for the life of me I still couldn’t get certain things out of my mind and by the time the third act was rolling around a number of thoughts kept me distracted from what was actually happening on screen.

The Lake House
As charming as the characters are, they just don’t seem very bright given the situation that they’re in, and in the case of Sandra Bullock’s character this includes having an extremely short memory or being just plain oblivious to the obvious, either of which ruins one of the major plot points of the film if you’re looking at everything logically. There were a few other things that happen over the course of the film that I kept going back to in my head along the way too, ones that made the direction of it too clear for a story that’s supposed to have an air of mystery about it. Then I found myself picking holes in each of them too, which only led to more questions and then some more. Before I knew it I was trivially wondering why Alex—seeing as he has a pen pal from the future—wasn’t trying to pull a Biff Tannen and asking Kate to send him a sports almanac, a copy of the Wall Street Journal, or something. You can say what you will, but in the same situation I know exactly what I’d be doing no matter how badly I’d been bitten by the love bug.

With that said, I offer this advice to you free of charge—you just have to go with the flow of some movies, so don’t think too much about what’s going on while you’re watching The Lake House and remind yourself that logic doesn’t have to apply to something that is mostly fantasy to begin with. Also, remember that any movie that takes too much time talking about who is winning the World Series and the ups and downs of the Dow Jones Industrial average two years from now wouldn’t make for a very romantic or interesting picture either.

As far as these types of romance dramas are concerned I enjoyed The Lake House much more than I thought I would when it arrived on my doorstep, and given a few days to think it over I can say that I like it a lot more now than while I was actually watching it. Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves are two very likable actors with good on-screen chemistry who play two very likable characters, and along with the fantasy elements of their relationship, I was intrigued for most of the picture.

The Lake House
There are a few nice moments sprinkled throughout—one of which involves the planting of a tree—that reveal the real heart of the movie, moments that logic can’t penetrate. I only wish that the filmmakers would have chosen to include more of such moments instead of focusing on the story’s more dramatic points which tend to drag it down, and if they had I’d be writing about a much different, and more importantly, much better film. As is though, The Lake House is a place worth visiting as long as you leave some of your own movie baggage and preconceptions at the door.

Warner Home Video has given The Lake House an anamorphic widescreen video transfer at its originally exhibited 2.40:1 aspect ratio for its DVD debut, and the results are mixed, but lean more to the plus side than the minus. Colour rendition and skin tones are excellent, and the film’s varied palette is quite pleasant to look at. There aren’t any noticeable film artefacts present, which should be a given since the movie was just released earlier this year, and due to the nice bit rate used to convert the film over to DVD-Video I didn’t notice much in the way of compression artefacts either. The downside to the video mainly deals with the fact that it is often times a bit on the blurry side, especially in longer shots throughout the film where the loss of definition in certain on-screen objects is quite noticeable. Overall, the video transfer here is decent, but Warner has done better in the past in carrying films over to DVD.

The Lake House
The disc offers the choice between Dolby Digital 5.1 audio tracks in English, French, and Spanish with optional subtitles for each language, and the results are about what I had expected when I first popped the disc into my player. The Lake House isn’t the latest big action, summer blockbuster so the surround channels aren’t the most active in the world, though there are some nice effects that are more ambient than anything else. Everything else about the sound is as expected from a recent, big studio release with crisp, easily understood dialogue coming from the centre channel and not much in the way of defects to be found anywhere else either. Overall the audio on the disc isn’t going to blow your walls down, but it does its job for this particular film.

Fans of the film during its theatrical run may be disappointed to find less than a handful of extras on the disc, and probably won’t be too enthused about what is actually offered either. Included on the disc is a series of five, fairly inconsequential deleted scenes and outtakes presented in non-anamorphic widescreen and the film’s theatrical trailer. A commentary by the director, lead actors, or somebody associated with the movie would have been nice, and an interesting featurette might have been a comparison of this film to Il Mare, but I guess for now we’ll just have to wait and see if anything like that shows up down the road.

The Lake House
The Lake House is a fairly enjoyable fantasy tale that I enjoyed much more than I half expected to, and so long as you don’t dwell too much on certain elements of the plot and refrain from thinking too hard about the story you’ll probably enjoy it too—even if this type of romantic fluff really isn’t your bag. Warner’s DVD presentation of the film holds a decent video transfer and audio to match, but the five minutes of extras are less than what most folks have come to expect when it comes to big studio releases such as this one. Overall I’d recommend a rental over a purchase, unless of course you plan on watching the film itself over and over again since there’s little else that’s been added to the package to warrant more than a single look.