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Monday, January 29, 2007

The Lake House

The first time I saw The Lake House, I recognized all the flaws that others seem to find in the movie. Like, why is the movie edited in such a fashion as to make it appear that Kate (played by Sandra Bullock) and Alex (played by Keanu Reeves) appear to be carrying on give-and-take real life conversations when in reality they were conversing through letters? Or, why didn’t Kate suggest sooner that they pick a date in the future and meet (she’s in 2006 and he’s in 2004)? Or why did Kate have to move from the lake house (presumably for her new job in the city) when she had all the time in the world to drive back to the lake house to use the magical mailbox to trade letters with Alex?

This is why I like to see movies over and over though. The second time through, I was much more focused on the actual correspondence between the two rather than trying to figure out the time differential. Early on in the movie, Kate writes a letter to Alex that includes these words:

“Every time I stop to take a break, I realize how isolated I’ve let myself become. Believe me. You can get a bit desperate. It’s not that I’m complaining—I love my work. And our tour through Chicago opened my eyes to its beauty. But my heart still misses the lake house. And its trees. I miss those trees so much.”

Kate realizes that she’s allowed herself to become isolated—much like she was when she lived at the lake house two years prior—but yet she wishes that she had her old trees because they would somehow bring her comfort. Seeking the familiar when life seems a bit out of sorts is a common thing to do, but in Kate’s case, the trees would have been a temporary fix. She was really missing love. She’s been waiting for the right guy for a long time, but he doesn’t seem to exist, so she threw herself into her work. But then Alex appeared—sort of.

By letting her guard down a little, I think she was subtly testing him. She wanted to see how he would react. Would he criticize her? Would he offer a magical fix? Would he back away from the possible relationship? Would he empathize? She didn’t have to wait long to find her answer. He reacted by planting a tree outside of her apartment complex, and since he did it in 2004, it suddenly appeared as a two year old tree in the middle of a rain storm in 2006—and it offered her shelter. If she was testing him, he passed.

It was a beautiful first step into a relationship. I don’t think that Alex “passed” just because he planted a tree. Instead, I think he passed because he accepted Kate for who she was, even in the midst of her vulnerable condition. As new relationships begin, everybody is afraid to show insecurities, but by doing so, we give the other person a small glimpse of who we are—hoping that it won’t scare him or her away. Finding somebody who reacts the way Alex did is difficult, but I think Kate thought it was worth the wait.


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