Analog Thoughts on a Digital Age

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Comparative Review: "The Lake House" (2006); "Il Mare" (2000)

I just saw The Lake House yesterday expecting another crappy remake of another fine Asian original. Instead I was quite impressed with what they've done.

I had also only recently seen Il Mare on DVD. I have known about the movie for years because of my obvious infatuation with Sassy Girl Jeon Ji Hyun, but never really got around to seeing it for myself. My growing interest in the American remake prompted me to get the video and actually see it. here's how the story of both movies goes...

A woman (Sandra Bullock, Jeon Ji Hyun) moves out of her rented lake House and leaves a letter for the next tenant to forward all her mail to her new address. An architect (Keanu Reeves, Lee Jung Jae) moves in and replies to the letter and sends it to the woman. Woman wonders why the date of his letter is two years late. Man says "what do you mean?" Woman says, "It's 2006 (1999 in Il Mare)". man says, "No, it's 2004(1997 in Il Mare in case you can't do math)". Man gets curious and looks for woman's address... it's still under construction. they finally realize that they live two years apart through a mailbox that knows no time. And so begins their beautiful yet futile love story.

There are too many details in the movie I want to get into but can't because I have a splitting headache. So we will have to do with just that. Anyway you get the idea.

You cant help but compare the similarities in the movie such as the dog's paw prints in the walkway. The freak winter drizzle warning and the encounter in the train station. But here are a lot of variations between this story that are explored by both movies that were not in each other's script. For example, The Lake House turned Bullock's character into a doctor, which gives her character more relevance to the story, instead of Jeon's cartoon voice talent. There is actual 'tactile' contact between the Americans but the Koreans barely shared a glance in the moments when they were in the same place and the same time period.

Generally, Il Mare is more complicated story-wise. Emphasizing on the plot's complexity which is not very favorable for every viewer. Most times, we are left to figure out most of the story without clues. The ending is akin to your typical Korean tearjerker (although do cannot conclude that it has a sad ending). The rewriters of The Lake House obviously saw to it that the story was more simplified and added a lot of romatic undertones to many of the scenes such as adding jazz music and the Classics in the soundtrack (which is excellent). The ending is a little contrived for maximum kilig factor and is not necessarily logical, given that we are also dealing with the science of the consistency of events in the movie. Yes there is a major plot hole. The story was sacrificed for the sake of a giddy sigh from the girls in the theater.

Il Mare is a bit longer, but hey, all Korean movies are almost 30 minutes longer than hollywood movies. Both may have their faults, but all in all both are very satisfying two hours in the theater.

Rocketboy's Rating: "The Lake House" (***); "Il Mare" (****)


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