June 18th, 2006


The Lake House

About four years ago, a friend, knowing how much I love the concept of time travel as portrayed in film, emailed me about a Korean film called Il Mare (시월애). He was right, it was right up my alley, a sort of You've Got Mail meets Frequency. I went to eBay and found it, bought it, watched it, and fell in love with it.

A couple of months ago, watching Lost, I saw an ad for a new movie. It featured a house built on the water, two people, and a mailbox. "Oh my freaking god, do you know what that is?" I asked my boyfriend. Do you know what that is?!" I rewound the commercial so he could see it again. "It's only freaking Il Mare, isn't it?" I asked, unable to keep a mixture of incredulity and disgust out of my voice. Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock, WTF? Why not Daniel Dae Kim and Sandra Oh? (Ooooh, now that I'd love to see! Someone call Hollywood, stat!)

Last night, we saw The Lake House, and I am a little distressed to report that I didn't totally hate it. Which I attribute mainly to the following: It was shot in Chicago, with real locations (show me the Green Mill and I'm yours forever), and I'm a bit of a sucker for that. It was almost a literal translation of the original, superior version, in the same way that much of Shall We Dance? was a near word-for-word translation of Shall We Dansu?, only in a good way; they didn't stick in too much crap that wasn't there in the first place. However, in Americanising it, they make it (as I expected) far more obvious than the original. They also seriously mess up the time-travel logic, which makes for interesting after-movie debates, but still: WTF? The Korean version is much more elegant. I'd love to elaborate on this, and on the conversation we had over drinks on the way home from the theatre, with bulletpoints and diagrams showing where the paradoxes abound, but that would give away too much.

For whatever reason, the woman's career has been upgraded: she's a doctor, not a voiceover actress for cartoons. The man's profession is only modified slightly: from architect student to actual architect. I can see two "reasons" for changing the woman into a doctor in terms of the plot, but at best these are only justifications: the plot is already destroyed by the temporal shift imposed by Western revision.

That being said, it's good to see both versions; this Americanised take on time travel isn't completely ruined and has a few nice touches (like an Italian restaurant with a watery name). I like Sandra Bullock in Chicago (as in While You Were Sleeping which was evoked a bit to me with this). I wish the first choice, John Cusack, had been in this instead of Keanu Reeves, but ultimately, let's face it: neither one can touch Lee Jung Jae.

Or, you know, Daniel Dae Kim. And Sandra Oh. Seeing an American version of a Korean movie with Korean-American (and Korean-Canadian) actors would, somehow, have been incredibly satisfying. I guess we're not ready for that yet.
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