Going in, I knew The Lake House involved some kind of magical mail service that allowed people to exchange letters across the boundaries of time. But for some reason, my analog-era thinking led me to assume there would actually be a mailman that facilitated the magic, perhaps with a Cockney accent and a penchant for distributing sage advice to the lovelorn along his mail route. The Lake House, however, has no such character. The rusty mailbox stationed outside the house in question is basically an e-mail box on a stick. A user scribbles down a message on a scrap of paper, crams it inside, then impatiently crosses their arms and taps their toe until the box's red flag pops up of its own volition. It seems like the only thing missing is a booming voice from the clouds....."You've got mail!"
The pen pals: Alex (Keanu Reeves) and Kate (Sandra Bullock), two Chicago professionals living out their lives in 2004 and 2006, respectively. She, a doctor, leaves a forwarding address behind as she moves out of the place. He, an architect, forwards a note after moving in, and the two begin a temporally askew correspondence. "I'll play this game," she mutters, thinking he must be flirting by insisting the correct year is 2004. Before long, they are taxing their brains to find a way around an old law of movie love -- relationships based on intense circumstances never last.