I went to see a movie last night. This alone is worth remarking on. In the days before children (BC), I was an avid movie-goer – two to three a week, at least. When I was a journalist working night shift, I’d take myself off to the Rosebank Cinema in Joburg and watch two films back-to-back. I was up to date and in the know. Then came all my beloveds and the movie habit ceased.
After years of famine (living in Germany where they dub every single film didn’t help), I now subscribe to Amazon.de’s DVD rental service. This means I get to see things, but later, sometimes years after they’ve been released. I’ve completely relinquished any up-to-date-ness and now just enjoy watching a DVD of an evening while my kids are asleep (I just saw The Motorcycle Diaries and now have The Human Stain awaiting me).
So last night, with babysitter in situ, I went to see The Lake House with a friend – my German is now good enough – and adored it. I was swept away: the romance, the beauty, the cinematography, the soundtrack, the tall handsome Keanu and the sad story with its happy ending. I was entranced by the cinematic experience – compared to DVD watching it’s so much more intense. No wonder I was once an addict.
Then I came home, slept and woke up thinking, that film wasn’t quite as wonderful as my experience of seeing it was. I want to remain true to how much I loved the film while I watched it, but I have to be frank, it has faults.
I think the director Alejandro Agresti did a great job with the filmic elements because it looked and sounded beautiful. But Keanu, however handsome, was wooden, and Sandra Bullock was one-dimensional. I think it’s a pity that a great script and an interesting story and a talented director got themselves landed with these two lumps. All the publicity is shrieking about the Reeves/Bullock reunion (first since Speed; he, sensibly, declined Speed 2), but really that’s the least interesting part of the whole thing.
What’s amazing is that Agresti has managed to sculpt a wonderful fairy story despite these two very ordinary actors. The script helps in that they only have two scenes together, in which they spend their time kissing and not talking much. The way he slides between the two different time frames works, the supporting cast is strong, the music is evocative, the story hooks you.
All this helps you to forget that the lovely K’s range of emotions goes from furrowed of brow to even more furrowed and then back again. He does have the most astonishingly bland face. While he’s striding the landscape looking like a lumberjack and discoursing on the quality of light, poor old Sandra is busy being very melancholic. There are scenes of her alone in the rain, alone at a restaurant, alone watching happy couples, driving alone, talking to her dog, and then being alone again. She gets into it, and gives despair her damndest, but without the shades or layers that make you care about why she is so sad. All you want is for her to find Keanu so she can finally smile.
Two less beautiful and more accomplished talents (two actors perhaps, rather than two stars) would have given Agresti’s lovely tale the nuance it needs to be more than a pleasant date movie, which is what it is.