Keanu Reeves Finds Peace At 'The Lake House'
by Tim Lammers
Film Further Establishes Star's Abilities As Romantic Leading Man
Sure, it's been 12 years since Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock last shared the screen aboard a certain bus movie you might have heard of. But bringing each other up to, well, speed, on their lives was something that the duo didn't have to do when they reunited for the new romantic drama "The Lake House."
In fact, the two have been friends all along.
The odd thing about "The Lake House" is that, like most other film projects, the specific pairing of the two actors was by happenstance.
And in a recent @ The Movies interview, Reeves told me that, while the feeling was in the air for him and Bullock to work together again, they weren't about to do a film together again just for the sake of doing another film together.
In short, there had to be a "there" there.
"Things came around over the years but they didn't feel right," Reeves said. "This was a project where she came to it separately than I did, and we came together through the director, Alejandro Agresti ("Valentin"), who had the idea to put us together. Once we both read the script, Sandra and I, we decided that this would be the one for us."
In the film, Bullock plays Kate, an independent-minded, yet lonely, doctor who occupied a glass-walled lake house. Upon moving away to take a job at a Chicago hospital, she leaves a letter in the mailbox for the next tenant, a frustrated architect named Alex (Reeves). Sensing something unusual about their words and the lake house they describe, the two come to discover that they are actually living two years apart -- she in 2006 and he in 2004.
As the two continue to exchange letters and fall in love, they work to unravel the mystery behind their extraordinary romance before the opportunity to be together in the same place and time is gone forever.
Because their chemistry in "Speed" was so undeniable, movie fans may be wondering if the on-screen magic is still there after a dozen years. But rest assured, "The Lake House" captures desires of movie fans who've been waiting to seem them paired on screen again for so long.
And it captures the longings of Reeves and Bullock, too, whether they're appearing on-screen together or not.
"We kept in touch over the years and get along really well, and in working together again, we had a trust and a comfort and a desire to be there," Reeves said. "Also, in the nature of the piece, the two characters are separated by time, and I think the quality that we have as a pairing really helped to serve the story. You want to see them together. They do seem like they belong together -- so our lives helped infuse the story I think."
What makes "The Lake House" so great is that it has a wonderfully original premise -- especially by today's struggling movie standards. It's billed as a romantic drama, but it's also a mindbender that has an element of mystery to it.
And while the film is fantastical in nature, Reeves firmly believes that audiences will wholeheartedly be able to grasp the concept.
"(It has a feeling) which I think people can relate to when they come together," Reeves said. "There is this feeling of, 'How does this happen? What did we have to let go in terms of our fears, to be able to open ourselves up to the opportunity of a relationship?'"
A Love Letter To The Past
While the film is set in the modern days (you have to remember, they're two years apart), there's an element of "The Lake House" that's refreshingly old-fashioned: Instead of e-mail, instant messaging or text messaging, Alex and Kate communicate by letter-writing .
And it's that means of communication that Reeves feels is vital to the relationship of the characters: Letters, especially love letters, carry so much more weight.
"Part of the reason for that, symbolically, is that these letters take them out of their ordinary lives and make it extraordinary," said an introspective Reeves. "It's not just the simple phone call, it's not a quick e-mail -- these letters are thoughtful, they take time (to write), they're very personal.
"I know for myself, personally, I feel different when I write a letter than I do when I do an e-mail or talk on the phone," Reeves added. "We speak to ourselves and to the other through a letter in a much richer way."
And anybody who has ever relied on letter-writing to communicate -- myself included -- know the passions they inspire. When you read them, it's as if the writer is alive and breathing on the pages and is there with you.
"They have an independence as objects," Reeves observed for me. "They're like a book. They're not in another machine -- they're not in a digital realm -- they are concrete separate objects that hold the story. They're a little more immune to flights of fancy or technical glitches. You can hold them in the hands, you can smell them and you can feel them."
Of course, the idea of being trapped in a digital realm has special meaning for Reeves over the past few years, for playing the iconic Neo in the mind-blowing "Matrix" trilogy.
But anybody even vaguely familiar with Reeves' work knows he's done his share of romantic films as well. There's "A Walk in the Clouds" and "Sweet November" to name a couple, but none has made a bigger impression on me than his impressive turn as Jack Nicholson's doctor and Diane Keaton's younger suitor in the hit romantic comedy "Something's Gotta Give."
And while Reeves, 41, had well proved before that he has the chops for romantic, leading man roles, "Something's Gotta Give," in a way, opened the doors to "The Lake House."
"Careerwise, it certainly did. I think coming out of 'The Matrix' films, 'The Replacements' and 'Hardball,' having that turn in 'Something's Gotta Give' was something was certainly not new ground, but new present ground for me as a performer," Reeves said. "I got to work with such great actors and a great script by Nancy Meyers, and direction, etcetera . I think it showed the potential that I could do these kinds of films."
Most importantly, it showed that Reeves had a life outside of "The Matrix."
"I'm trying to hopefully have a career that can span different genres and different roles," Reeves added.
And while I observed for Reeves that he already has that sort of career going -- with turns in Shakespeare ("Much Ado About Nothing"), horror ("Bram Stoker's Dracula"), supernatural thrillers ("The Gift," "The Devil's Advocate," "Constantine"), comedy ("Parenthood," "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure"), drama ("My Own Private Idaho"), romance and action, of course -- he was still humble about his future prospects.
"You always gotta keep workin' on workin'," Reeves humbled.