Movies: The Lake House

There are few movies in my life that I can say that I just didn’t understand.  Stay is the only one I can think of off the top of my head.  However, The Lake House will always be the biggest example of this for me.  I just finished watching the movie and I am just so confused.  I didn’t understand the plot, how all of these things could be happening to these characters.  Their ‘time’ connection relies on a special mailbox, but for the entire middle part of the film the mailbox is never used, yet their communication continues.  I’ve come to the conclusion that attempting a Space Time Continuum, especially in a romance is doomed from inception.

That being said, there were still elements of the movie that appealed to me.  The actors had marvelous chemistry and I believed they were in love.(Even when there was no evidence, build-up or just any reason to believe that they would fall in love)  Their chemistry was the only thing holding me into the film, otherwise I would have not finished it.  The movie just had so many holes.  I feel like they’re gaping black holes and no amount of conversation or explanation could help fix them.

I can’t rate this movie or even give an opinion simply because it made no sense to me.  I feel like I was missing important scenes.  So please if anyone out there has seen this and it made sense to them, explain it to me.  I’m really trying to understand.  So much so, my head now hurts.

So yeah, the Lake House…..they had good chemistry.  That’s all I’ve got.


5 Responses to “Movies: The Lake House”

  1. 1 Anonymous
    April 29, 2007 at 2:13 am

    I just finished watching this movie.
    Its been a while since it came out, but I finally just got around to it.
    And believe me, I am just as confused as you say. My head too hurts.

  2. 2 Loved it
    March 17, 2009 at 3:57 am

    I loved this movie. You have to buy into the magic of the 2-year gap in order to enjoy the movie. Wondering how that happened will keep you away from the love story of meeting and falling in love with someone you correspond with. It could happen–you could fall in love by letters. Letters are intimate, and when you write them, you get to finish your thought without interruption. You get to be fully heard, and you get to fully hear the other’s thoughts. It’s a different way of being very intimate with someone.

    The thing with writing letters is that you are always in your own setting when you write them and the other person is in theirs. So during the middle, when Kate and Alex are not appearing to use the mailbox, you must infer that they actually are. But only for mailing the letters. Remember, Kate said, “Sorry I haven’t been to the mailbox lately. It’s been a long week. All nightshifts.” At times, they may write back and forth at the mailbox, seconds apart from each other, but usually they will be in their own setting, writing a longer letter and mailing it later.

    The middle part of the movie is about what they wrote, and perhaps where they were when they wrote it, or when they thought about what they would write next, or where they were when they replayed in their heads the letter they had received earlier. Alex wrote to Kate about his difficult relationship with his father, and about visiting his dad in the hospital, but we have to infer that from this leap in ideas: he went from saying,”Wonderful, our first fight…” to saying, “What I never told you was that it was my father who built the lake house.” (Actually it’s the voice of his words on the page, not his actual voice speaking.) In between there, he would have spoken of his father, but we don’t hear every letter they exchange–only the idea of how they flow and how the letters brought them together.

    Alex had said he would find ways to be close to her and take care of her, even if they were apart. He did this by setting up the date where they both go for the same walk, two years apart, and by planting a tree for Kate (because the tree just appeared out of nowhere, she knew it was him that changed her 2006 reality in a way that brought her comfort). They must have talked about other ways to be close, like favourite places to sit and write letters, so they both are seen sitting in some of those favourite places: watching the sunset at the lake house two years apart, on the park bench two years apart, in an empty restaurant two years apart. The screenwriter took artistic license to create give-and-take conversations in these favourite settings. It makes the story go faster, and the different locations are more interesting than just standing at the mailbox reading letters all the time. Actually, some of their give-and-take conversations may have taken place at the mailbox just like they did at the beginning of the movie, but most of their letters would have been written at a leisurely pace, perhaps at their respective homes, at the hospital on Kate’s lunch break, etc. In letters, you can say several things, and when you get a letter back, each of those things could have been responded to. Then you write back several paragraphs replying to each of the comments you read, etc. So in that way, real letters could have several give-and-take conversations going on over the course of 5 or 6 letters back and forth.

    When Alex finally realizes it’s time for him to move out of the lake house (it is the fall of 2004 or 2005), he is heartbroken, but he knows this is a chance to make a gift of the lake house and the dog to Kate. He’s still taking care of her, because he knows from 2006 Kate that both the lake house and Jack will be of great comfort to her when she is alone. Much later, it’s 2006 for Alex and he is still missing her. He has read Persuasion and marked a passage in the book for her. In his time, in 2006, Kate’s new apartment building in Chicago is almost completed and she will soon move in. (It was to be completed 18 months after they first began corresponding.) Kate had told him her apartment number in the first letter when she asked him to forward her mail, so he knows which apartment to sneak in to (or as an architect, to talk his way in to). In 2006, he dislodges a floorboard in the bedroom and deposits the book for Kate. He has changed the future again by doing this. Only at that moment does the floorboard in 2008 become loose and tippy, so that when Kate eventually walks across it, it makes a racket and flips up, so she investigates right away and finds the book and the implied love letter from Alex in the highlighted passage marked with a dried flower. She knows he still loves her and is thinking of her and she clutches the book to her heart, feeling the same way, but wanting to quit thinking about a fantasy, time-warped relationship and get on with living in her own 2008 reality.

    Kate decides she and Morgan need should move, “keep moving forward,” so she finds another apartment, and hires an architectural firm to renovate it for her. On February 14, 2006, Alex and Henry are walking into Visionary Vanguard, and in 2008, Kate and Morgan are walking into the same office.

    Alex is still missing Kate, and when he walks outside with Henry and feels the unseasonably warm weather, he realizes it’s February 14, 2006, which is a specific date that Kate mentioned in one letter. He remembers she told him where she was at lunchtime that day. So he races to the lake house to find the letter that tells him where he can find her. He is already in the house in 2006 when Kate arrives at the lake house in 2008. She hastily writes her note, then gives herself the time to cry about realizing it was Alex who had died in her arms in 2006. She hadn’t written to him since 2004, and she had lived in the lake house since Alex moved out. She had no way to be sure that he would return to the lake house one day and check the mailbox. She could only hope, and cry.

    Meanwhile, Alex finds the letter about February 14, 2006, and sees the words Daly Plaza. He would have rushed out of the house just for the chance to see her, and we can infer that when he left the house, he noticed the flag up on the mailbox. Remember, the flag went up on the mailbox at the exact same time, two years apart. So we can infer he noticed that the flag was down when he entered the house to find the 2006 letter, and it was up when he ran out to go see Kate. So he knows with certainly that at that moment, two years from his time, Kate is standing at the mailbox. Kate hears the flag move, looks up, and gulps away her tears, realizing that if Alex is the one who read the letter, then he has received her warning and she may have saved his life. She is so relieved and just sits there gratefully, clinging to the mailbox, but she cannot be sure he is okay until she sees him. Anything can happen over a two year span.

    Alex reads the warning letter, but still wants to see her. He drives to Chicago to Daly Plaza, and sees her across the street having lunch. At first, we hear the words of her first letter replaying in his head, saying “It was unseasonably hot. I was at Daly Plaza having lunch with my mother.” The suspense builds as we see him stepping closer to the edge of the road. It seems that he will take the risk and maybe die in her arms despite her warning. But then we hear the second letter, the warning letter, replaying in his head, where she says she loves him. He stops to look down at her words on the page again, and up again to see her for a few more minutes.

    He will wait two more years for her, and he knows it’s a sure thing that she will be at the lake house two years from now in his time. That’s the great thing for Alex. He knows that even though two years will pass for him, only moments have passed for her from the time she wrote the letter (when the 2006 Alex read it) to the time the 2008 Alex drives up to the lake house. He knows it is “right now” in her time, that she just realized she loved him and told him so, and that she is waiting for him.

    He also knows she just recently received the news that he had died on Feb. 14, 2006. He knows she realizes it was him who had died in her arms that day. And he knows she just figured this out in 2008, so she has just been grieving for him. That’s why he looks at her first with loving concern, seeing her red, puffy, teary-eyed face. She can barely speak, because she’s just been crying, so her face has little expression. All she can say is, “You waited.” He grabs her face feverishly and kisses her–no more words, no more waiting, his kisses tell her how much he loves her, adores her, cares for her, missed her, longed for her. It’s like he’s saying, “Of course, I waited, and I’d do it again. You’re the one.” It’s not about sex. It’s about connection, completion, finally being together, and finally being able to express their love. I think she might still feel like they now have a chance to see if they can make it work, and I think he has all the certainty in the world that this will work–he has already been committed to loving her since 2004. He never forgot her, and he was willing to wait two more years from 2006 to 2008. He knows he can give his whole heart to her for the long term because he has already done it.

    Then they hug and smile and their kisses change to gentler, more reassuring and contented ones, as if to say, “It’s okay, we’re together now,” and “Hello, real life 2008 you. It’s nice to see you.” : )

    I love how they look at the lake house like it’s their beloved, sleeping baby. It’s the beautiful gift they share and that brought them together. As they walk toward the house, he hands her a Valentine’s card.

    I hope this helps explain the movie.

  3. 3 Loved it
    March 17, 2009 at 4:51 pm

    I forgot to add that there are a few mistakes in the movie that may cause confusion. First, there’s Jack, the dog. Alex calls her Jack because Kate said that’s what she calls her and she doesn’t know why. But Alex had told Morgan that her name was Jack, so Morgan would have told Kate. Jack should have named the dog first, and then it would have been funny rather than confusing to hear that Kate called her dog Jack and she didn’t know why. Alex would then realize he had told Morgan, who had told Kate, and then Kate forgot where the name came from.

    Also, Kate looks at the photo of a freak April snowfall, and says to Jack, “Remember that? You were not happy.” That’s a mistake in screenwriting. Actually, Jack was with Alex in April 2004, not with Kate.

    Don’t let those two mistakes throw you off the storyline. The rest make sense once you buy into the magic of a 2-year time gap. Enjoy!

  4. 4 Loved it
    March 17, 2009 at 4:53 pm

    I mean, Alex should have named the dog first…. (not Jack should have named the dog first…)

    • 5 Juan Santana
      October 4, 2015 at 5:28 am

      Wow awesome job of summarizing the movie. I also loved this movie!!! One quick question. Do you have any idea why there was a 2 year gap?. Could it be because he was dead in kate’s time? Because it all started when alex died. My theory atleast, what do you think?

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This blog will gradually grow as I have more time to update it. I love television, movies and pretty much all things media related. So prepare for changes as this is very much still a work in progress. Questions or further comments? Email tvdork.


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