Films & Architecture: "The Lake House"

The Lake House is a film that shows many of the daily issues of architects’ lives. A successful architect whose two children decided to follow the same path but in really different ways. The movie presents architecture as a transmitted skill through generations, a kind of familiar heritage. Which is actually a repetitive situation in our practice.

Have you seen it already? Let us know if you feel touched by any of these subjects. What generation of architect you are?


Original title: The Lake House Year: 2006 Runtime: 105 min. Country: United States Director: Alejandro Agresti Writer: David Auburn Soundtrack: Rachel Portman, Paul McCartney Cast: Keanu Reeves, Sandra Bullock, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Dylan Walsh, Christopher Plummer


In 2006, Dr. Kate Forster is leaving a lake house that she has been renting in suburban Wisconsin to move to Chicago. Kate leaves a note in the mailbox for the next tenant to forward her letters should some slip through the system, further adding that the paint-embedded pawprints on the walkway leading into the house were already there when she arrived.

Two years earlier, in 2004, Alex Wyler, an architect, arrives at the lake house and finds Kate’s letter in the mailbox. The house is neglected, with no sign of pawprints anywhere. As Alex restores the house, a dog runs through his paint and leaves fresh pawprints right where Kate said they would be. Both Alex and Kate continue passing messages to each other via the mailbox, and each watch its flag go up and down as the message leaves and the reply arrives, which takes place as they wait at the mailbox. They cautiously look around each time the flag changes, hoping to somehow spot the other, but in vain they do not, as they are alone at the mailbox.

Baffled, Alex writes back, asking how Kate knew about the pawprints since the house was unoccupied before he arrived. An equally perplexed Kate writes back, and she and Alex discover that they are living exactly two years apart. Their correspondence takes them through several events, including Alex finding a book, Persuasion, at a train station where Kate said she had lost it, and Alex taking Kate on a walking tour of his favorite places in Chicago via an annotated map that he leaves in the mailbox. Alex and Kate eventually meet at a party, but he doesn’t mention their letter relationship to her.

As Alex and Kate continue to write each other, they decide to try to meet again. Alex makes a reservation at Il Mare (Italian for “The Sea”), a restaurant whose name is a homage to the original Korean motion picture, for around March 2006 — two years in Alex’s future, but only a day away for Kate. Kate goes to the restaurant but Alex fails to show. Heartbroken, Kate asks Alex not to write her again, recounting a tragedy a year ago before, on Valentine’s Day 2006, when she witnessed a traffic accident near Daley Plaza and held a man who died in her arms. Both Alex and Kate leave the lake house, continuing on with their separate lives.

A year later, on Valentine’s Day 2006 for Alex, Valentine’s Day 2008 for Kate, Alex returns to the lake house after something about the day triggers his memory. Meanwhile, Kate goes to an architect to review renovation plans for a house she wants to buy. She notices a drawing of the lake house on the conference room wall and learns that Alex Wyler — the same person with whom she’d been corresponding — had drawn it. She also learns that Alex was killed in a traffic accident exactly two years ago to the day and realizes why he never showed up for their date; he was the man who died in Daley Plaza.

Rushing to the lake house, Kate writes a letter telling Alex she loves him, but begs him not to try to find her if he loves her back. Wait two years, she says, and come to the lake house instead. Meanwhile Alex has gone to Daley Plaza to find Kate. At the lake house, Kate sobs, clutching onto the mailbox stand, sure she was too late, but then the mailbox flag lowers; Alex has picked up her note. Soon, she sees a vehicle arriving and then a figure walking toward her. It is Alex. They walk toward each other. Kate says, “You waited!” She and Alex kiss, then walk toward the lake house.


Previously posted on this section…

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Cite: Daniel Portilla. "Films & Architecture: "The Lake House"" 16 Oct 2012. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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