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Bad timing

THE BALTIMORE SUN

My idea of a romantic gimmick is the one in Groundhog Day. Granted, that inspired piece of pop Buddhism was about a media striver reconfiguring his whole life by living the same 24 hours over and over again. But it also allowed him to fix every dunderheaded mistake he made in courting his true love - each awkward feint, every sorry piece of bravado, any misplaced emphasis and all the bone-headed declarations of his alpha-male worth.

The modest gimmick behind the romance of The Lake House is a mailbox that functions as a time portal. Sandra Bullock as Dr. Kate Forster and Keanu Reeves as architect Alex Wyler take up residence at a designer glass lake house two years apart. Forster lives there in 2006, Wyler in 2004. But they find themselves corresponding through that mailbox. Once they realize they're swapping letters over time, they grow more intimate in their admissions and more affectionately intrigued.

The Lake House (Warner Bros.) Starring Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock. Directed by Alejandro Agresti. Rated PG. Time 98 minutes.

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