Suspension of disbelief is essential to the enjoyment of much, if not most, fiction. The desire and ability to accept certain illogical or impossible plot devices will vary from person to person, but if people can’t accept those plot points, they can’t enjoy the movie.
For example, let’s say a person who knows a little bit about relativity and physics goes to a movie featuring spaceships flying around the galaxy. If the movie bothers to explain how the spaceship uses its “RFF Drive” to travel faster than light—something that is physically impossible as far as we currently know—then the concocted method of breaking the light barrier had better sound good enough for that person to think, “I’ll let that slide” and get on with enjoying the movie. Thus, most engineers can enjoy Star Trek (warp drive), Star Wars(hyperspace), and Spaceballs (ludicrous speed).
Similarly, let’s say a man named Ted hires a private detective to locate an old flame after ten years, travels across the country to follow her around, lies to her about why, and inadvertently leads her deranged ex-boyfriend right into her home. In real life, Ted would be either shot, arrested for stalking and face a restraining order, or be completely and thoroughly rejected by the object of his obsession once and for all. But in the movies, the old flame will pick Ted over her Super Bowl-winning, Hall of Fame-bound millionaire quarterback ex-boyfriend—totally unrealistic but we, the audience, will buy it as long as there’s a buyable explanation (e.g., Brett Favre doesn’t play for the 49ers, Ted gets along with Mary’s brother).
However, there are movies out there that flirt with impossibility, absurdity, or the illogical and get slapped in the face because the premise is too far out there for the viewer to suspend disbelief. This leads us to The Lake House, which asks, “What if you found the one you were meant for… but you lived two years apart?”
Well, as long as we’re suspending disbelief here, why leave it at having Neo and Sandra Bullock fall in love across time? And why leave it at two years? How about this for a motion picture event:
He’s a 29-year old high school economics teacher in 2006.
She’s Lynda Carter in 1978.
The other she is Helena Christensen in 1991…
I have not seen The Lake House, and could not possibly be dragged to see it, so maybe I’m being a little unfair. It may turn out to be a popular movie that many people are willing to enjoy, but for me, “star-cross’d lovers separated by time but linked by a magic mailbox” requires more than mere suspension of disbelief. This requires expulsion of disbelief. This requires sentencing disbelief to juvie and making it get a GED.
There are some simple ways around this problem which would be just as silly and cheap as the problem itself: time travel, cryogenic freezing, transdimensional teleportation… but let’s humor the makers of this film and address the big question:
What would I do if the one I was meant for lived two years behind me? I’d tell her to meet me at a particular time, say, today, and at a particular place, say, the house that we both have lived in. I’d pop it in the mailbox and she should walk through my door that day, right? Problem solved, end of movie. If in the intervening two years she died, was thrown in jail, or lost interest, then I wasn’t meant for her and the mailbox is a tool of the devil.
But even then, there’s a flaw: Sandra Bullock is 700 years old. Do you really think Little Miss Ticking Biological Clock is willing to delay meeting Mr. Perfect for two more years? Nope. So maybe she’ll say, “Tell me where you were two years ago,” and she’ll look me up in her time. When she shows up on my doorstep saying, “Hi, you don’t know it yet, but I’m the love of your life,” I’m sure I’d have something perfectly pleasant and tasteful to say in response. Problem solved, end of movie.
What if the one I was meant for lived two years in the future? I’d say, okay, I’ll be there in two years. End of movie, same caveats as before. But I couldn’t get away with looking her up in my time. Can you imagine me showing up on Sandra Bullock’s doorstep? “Hi. You don’t know it yet, but I’m the love of your—um, is that a shotgun?”
I’m sure the writers and director of The Lake House came up with a nice little way to dance around the absurdity of the premise and ways to complicate my seemingly simple solutions. But guess who doesn’t give a damn and won’t spend $9 for a ticket to find out? Go on, guess.
2 Responses to “Time-cross’d lovers.”
- Doctor Hmnahmna Says:
June 22nd, 2006 at 9:47 AM
Ooh, ooh, I know, Mr. V!
I won’t be seeing it.
And I need to thank you for all the bad karma I apparently built up badmouthing soccer. I was busting up ceramic tile last night, and well, four stitches later . . .
Mwah hah hah.
That’s all I got, sorry.