The current renaissance of Keanu Reeves has brought a lot of films from his back catalog to the forefront. (Did we agree on a cute portmanteau, by the way? Because I googled "Keanu Reeves Renaissance" and just got proof that he is a very kind immortal vampire instead of the style guide I needed.) Some are well worth revisiting, like My Own Private Idaho. And others … well, others are The Lake House.
A remake of the 2000 Korean film Il Mare, The Lake House did admirably for itself when it was released in 2006, but its impact on pop culture has been largely limited to existing as an oddball premise—two people separated by time who can only communicate via letters sent through a magic mailbox fall in love—rather than anything in the film itself. It is both known and unknown.
So, to celebrate Keanuvember, I decided to plunge into the waters of Lake Michigan to see if The Lake House is … worth the wait.
(See what I did there? Because the premise is about time — ah, you get me.)
1. Shout out to the thumbnail on Netflix, whose framing makes it look like someone is holding a cheeky knife behind Sandra Bullock's back like it's So I Married an Axe Murderer.
2. Who in this day and age has handwriting that neat? I had to start buying the tiniest pin nibs possible from the Japanese stationery store so my big-handed, left-handed scrawl could be legible.
3. The opening credit for Keanu Reeves, the Reeveson for the seevson, is over a shot of a very cute dog, which makes me feel right at home.
4. So Sandra Bullock is going off to her first day of work and I literally cannot tell if her dog goes with her or not, so imagine this entire sequence with me worrying about the dog.
5. Shohreh Aghdashloo is in this movie and I yearn for her every second she is not on screen. What a presence. What a gift.
6. Alex (Keanu Reeves) has an annoying, "too feminine" girlfriend who appears to be airlifted directly out of an '80s "battle of the sexes" comedy. It's uh, it's rough.
7. Kate and her mom witness a guy get hit by a bus and Kate, being a doctor, tries to help him but he dies. I have never seen this movie nor ever been spoiled for it, so please know this comes from a fresh heart: That was 100% Keanu. 100%.
8. Aghdashloo tells Kate to go somewhere far away on her day off to get over this "random bystander" dying, so she goes … to the lake house. Like, does she still rent the lake house whilst paying rent on a pretty nice apartment in Chicago? How does this lease work?
9. I do appreciate that we are barely 15 minutes into this movie and we already know that they're on different timelines and that the mailbox is magic. EFFICIENCY!
10. So Christopher Plummer is Keanu's dad, who is a bigshot bad dad architect, and Ebon Moss-Bachrach is Keanu's brother, who feels like they will never measure up to him, and they're both mad at Keanu for "selling out" and getting good solid work building houses in the suburbs. Truly, the past is another country entirely.
11. Okay, so we learn through the fact her apartment building isn't even built yet that he's in 2004 and she's in 2006, which, in today's years, is roughly a 50-year divide.
12. This romance is like falling in love with one of your Reply Guys.
13. What's the heating bill in this glass nightmare?
14. The real MVP of this movie is this sudden, hilarious zoom on Alex surprised to see a spring snowstorm.
15. So now Kate and Alex are basically just talking to each other, implying that they are writing letters as fast and furiously as 18th-century lovers with a lot of money and free time.
16. "Oh, not much has changed since 2004." I've aged a decade since 2017. You could not make this movie today, I'll tell you that.
17. I know I said the dog was magic in jest but I'm starting to really believe that the dog is a genderqueer traveling wizard in disguise.
18. Kate briefly visits an inspiring but indeterminately ill sassy child patient who is watching Notorious and thinks Cary Grant is too old for Ingrid Bergman. I think we're supposed to think about missed connections and Kate's love life, but I'm just impressed by the amount of tropes shoved into this scene with a character we will never see again.
19. How are they not suspicious of the fact that they somehow both have the same dog? Like, Kate remembers the freak snowstorm in 2004 because Jack hated it, but when it occurs in 2004, Jack is now with Alex. I suspect … wizardry.
20. Kate says she reads Russian literature to Jack and because all of the dialogue has the same emotional weight as a Live, Love, Laugh sign, I can't tell if she is joking or not.
21. Kate spills the beans about her time-traveling romance to her mom, who is completely nonplussed about the situation. I like her mom.
22. Bad dad Christopher Plummer insults Alex and gets offended that Alex won't just indulge him by letting him insult him, so he can fly directly into the sun if you ask me.
23. Jack is just straight-up playing chess with Kate, so I'm taking that as confirmation that they are, in fact, a genderqueer time-traveling wizard who appears in the guise of a cool dog. I bet Jack can skateboard.
24. As a romantic gesture, Alex takes a tree and plants it in front of her yet-to-be-built apartment building, which is sweet but I'm guessing illegal?
25. I mean, I'd never call architecture "seductive" like Alex does but I'm not here to yuck on anybody's yum.
26. So Alex is going to take the lake house, a monument to control that his jerk father built, and turn it into the perfect house for Kate, which is a metaphor about how emotional intelligence is the ultimate appeal.
27. Kate tasks Alex with rescuing a precious book that her late father gave to her that she forgot at a train station, which turns out to be a pristine generic reprint of Persuasion, so I … kind of don't buy it …
28. Kate's ex Morgan turns up in town and immediately demonstrates why she broke up with him, by barely listening to her, ignoring her, and then bringing up the fact that she kissed a guy at a birthday party she did not want despite the fact that they are no longer dating. What a dweeb.
29. If my girlfriend invited random strangers to my birthday party, she would no longer be my girlfriend. Morgan is the worst.
30. There's a grown man who goes by the nickname "the Wootch" at this party and he is 100% in jail now.
31. In the 2006 timeline, Shohreh Aghdashloo is drinking a martini with such panache that I could watch her for, like, two hours.
32. Alex's dad is in the hospital for heart stuff, but by now we've heard a story about how Alex's dad refused to go to the funeral of the mother of his children because she dared divorce him, so I'm rooting for the Grim Reaper.
33. FINALLY, Alex and Kate arrange to meet in her timeline at a fancy restaurant and he does not show. You'd think she'd finally figure out he's dead, but nope! She breaks up with him, even MENTIONING THE DEAD DUDE SHE SAW WHO IS 100% HIM, and asks him not to write again. KATE. PLEASE. OPEN YOUR EYES.
34. Post-Alex, Kate has decided to move on … by getting back into a relationship with Morgan oh boy. It does not go well because he has not changed as a person at all! Don't settle, kids!
35. Kate finds her dad's book hidden under the floorboards of her apartment, which implies Alex broke into her apartment building to plant this after they broke up as some kind of psychological warfare.
36. Oh … no … Alex was the dead man at the plaza … I'm … so shocked …
37. Kate runs to the lake house to send one last, desperate letter to Alex to prevent his death after hearing about his death from his brother and then Alex just drives up. So. Like. Either the timeline just autocorrects immediately, or he's been faking his own death for the last few months just so he can lay a big one on Kate. So, uh, if romantic death faking is your thing, check out The Lake House!