The Lake House: the movie’s ending, explained

By Harneet Kaur — ON Nov 18, 2022
The Lake House
Warner Bros. Pictures

Starring Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullocks, The Lake House is a sci-fi romance movie released in 2006. Let’s see what the story is all about.

Spoilers Ahead!

What magical time travel romance is this?!

The protagonists find each other weirdly- through a mailbox at a lake house which they both inhabited at different points of time. Kate, a doctor in Chicago, writes a letter to the new owners after her in the year 2006.

On Valentine’s Day in 2006, Kate witnesses a road accident in Daley Plaza and the guy who’s hit by a bus die in her arms- see’s Alex’s letter and their talks begin. Soon, the get aware of the strange situation- Kate’s letters are being delivered in the past to Alex and vice versa- but in real time.

The sweet epistolary love story

Alex takes Kate on a walk-through Chicago. Kate asks him to get her forgotten copy of Persuasion given by her father from a railway station. Alex reaches and runs after the train and sees her for the first time.

Through the same inexplicable magic, they both share and pet the same dog as well. Their talks turn personal, more intimate. Alex also somehow meets Kate’s then-ex-boyfriend, Morgan, at his house. He invites Alex and his friend Mona over for Kate’s birthday party and he agrees.

He sees her then, in 2004, while she’s unaware of his existence. They talk and dancing passionately to a song outside, they share a kiss. This kiss was a break up reason for Kate and Morgan as she earlier referred to Alex as a “random guy she kissed”. That’s because Alex didn’t disclose their time-bending acquaintance.

The turning point of the movie

Soon, frustrated by the difference, Alex insists they meet in her future. He makes a reservation at a restaurant, Il Mare (the name of the original South Korean movie which this is an adaptation of), for Kate’s tomorrow.

She arrives dressed and happy but the evening isn’t as expected. She waits until the restaurant closes but Alex doesn’t show up. This time made Kate realizing how idiotic her love for a man in the past sounds like and asks Alex to stop writing to her.

He does write but she doesn’t answer nor sees any letter.

Another time leap occurs in the movie

Soon after their talks stop, Kate and Morgan rekindle their romance, however, Kate is still somehow fixated on Alex. She takes out a wrapped-up Persuasion copy Alex found under a floor board and feels nostalgic.

A year or two later, in 2008, Kate and Morgan have come to Visionary Vanguard architecture firm to review renovation plans for a house she intends to buy. The company is in fact Alex and his brother Henry’s. Two years are going parallel- 2006 and 2008.

In the 2006 part, both brothers are seen as going in and out of work when suddenly Alex realizes it’s Valentine’s, the day Kate would be at Daley Plaza from their letters and goes to the lake house for something.

In the 2008 part, Kate sees a painting of the lake house at the firm and on inquiry, Henry tells it’s by his brother, Alex, who died this day 2 years ago in an accident at Daley Plaza. Kate puts the pieces together and rushes to the lake house herself.

What happens at the lake house in the end?

While Alex is looking through letters for the mention of Kate’s whereabouts today in 2006, Kate in 2008 is frantically writing a letter and putting it in the mailbox. She’s crying and praying for Alex to see it. Begging him to wait 2 years from 2006 and meet her at the lake house.

We see Alex reaching Daley Plaza and locating Kate, her letter being voiced over. But upon hearing her proclamation of love and request to wait, he doesn’t cross the road- averting the accident Kate witnessed that day.

In 2008, the flag on the mailbox goes down and Kate looks relieved since Alex read her letter. Soon, she hears a car coming down the driveway and from it, Alex comes out. Both of them embrace and kiss each other with extreme passion and are seen walking into the lake house.

In a talk with Cinema Blend, Keanu simply explains the undefined time travel element, something which got criticized by many later on, as: “…To make sense of it isn’t the point. The sense of it is the most important thing is that they are together. And that sometimes, what we put in our way, the things that we think matter to us actually probably don’t all the time.”