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In the film The Lake House, at what point and how did Alex get access to Kate's apartment on Racine in order to put Persuasion, the book she lost at the train station, under the floorboards of her bedroom? I watched it again recently on cable, and that question nagged me afterwards.

Did it happen offscreen or is it a mistake? Even with the time-shifted relationship burgeoning between Kate and Alex, it still feels creepy to think of him breaking in.

Is there any evidence, in the film or perhaps in the script, to support either interpretation?

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  • FYI, you should have enough reputation to create tags.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Mar 14, 2016 at 0:34
  • @randal'thor Good point, thanks. Commented Mar 14, 2016 at 0:51

3 Answers 3

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It's a bit recursive, but Alex knows Kate's address in 2006. Since he has access to her apartment in his own timeline (in 2004), it's a relatively simple matter for him to infiltrate the apartment and secrete the book under the squeaky floorboard. It's a cute way for him to send her a present without using the magic mailbox.

In the original script, we learn that the squeaky floorboard has been annoying her for a very long time. The first time it's mentioned is in scene 7, but she doesn't think to lift it until scene 106, nearly a year later.

INT. BEDROOM - NIGHT (Scene 7)

Her bedroom is as functional and depressing as the rest of the place. A loud SQUEAK as she walks into the room.

LUCY Kate: Fix loose floorboard.

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  • That works for me. It still feels creepy, though. Commented Mar 14, 2016 at 23:58
  • @rosesunhill - I presume he broke in while it was unoccupied or still under construction, well before she lived there
    – Valorum
    Commented Mar 15, 2016 at 0:08
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    Maybe it's just me. If there was no time travel element and he broke into the apartment that he knew she would move into, would we call it stalking? Still, I liked the movie. Commented Mar 15, 2016 at 0:14
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    @kjw - They seem to have changed her character's name between the final draft (before casting was completed) and the actual shoot. If I had to guess, it's because Sandra Bullock had already played a character with the same name
    – Valorum
    Commented Jun 21, 2016 at 17:57
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    @kjw - Often these decisions are made for the most innoccuous reasons, including market testing. I gather the name "Jake Sully" (from Avatar) was chosen by a focus group.
    – Valorum
    Commented Jun 21, 2016 at 19:53
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am pretty sure there is a scene where it shows him putting her book under the floorboards after he saw her leave it at the train station. His brother is the architect so getting in was easy. Even cooler planting the tree for her.

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    Hi, welcome to SF&F. You are correct, but the existing accepted answer already says this. (But he didn't see her leave it, she asked him to find it for her.) Please only post answers if you have something substantial to say that isn't already covered. You might want to take the tour.
    – DavidW
    Commented Jun 11, 2021 at 22:44
  • In the beginning of the story he goes to meet his brother and deliver a letter and they go to the construction site. His brother never says anything that would hint he is working on the project. He later goes to plant the tree and it seems to appear in her time as he finishes. This is setting up that time can be changed for the ending. I would guess a scene was deleted of him placing the book, or the audience is left to contrive it from his saying he would get it to her someday.
    – Scott
    Commented Aug 13, 2022 at 19:29
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If I had to guess, especially based on the other comment including a line from an early script, it probably died on the editing room floor, was not fully thought out in the writing or they supposed you could presume it yourself based on other things occurring in the story. (he says he has the book and will get it to her, because he knows how much it means to her after picking it up at the train station) You see early on that he knows the new place she lives was still under construction. You also see that he is apparently able to change the future by planting a tree in front of it before it is finished, at which point the tree just appears over her as she's entering the building. They show this to the 'viewer' but it's not commented upon in their letters. This could be to add 'drama' in that neither of them would fully know that it was possible to change the future, including her at the end when sending the letter back. (it creates more suspense if it's an act of desperation for her) It's like how they don't actually show him 'reading' that last letter she sent but you do see the flag go down after we saw that - on that valentine's day when he allegedly was the one in the accident, he first went to the lake house to again look in the box. So obviously the flag going down means he did read that last letter, presumably before the accident would have occurred. I'm frankly surprised they felt the need to show the scene of him hesitating on the curb, but they apparently thought it was the only way to tie together what had already happened with what was about to happen.

Personally, I think they could have found a more interesting way to explain some of the events than having him be the one that died in the accident. It kinda creates a paradox also in that he only knew of the date because she mentioned the accident. Thus he only remembered because of something he hadn't decided to do yet and only knew to do because she remembered it.

Cute story, but it could have been written better and probably should have included at a bare minimum an earlier allusion to the floorboard. Even something as simple as her telling him in a letter about it would have created enough context for the watcher to know he was aware of it and could later use it. Better still, they could have showed him loosening the board so it squeeked in the first place.

If they did edit out an earlier scene of her complaining about the squeeky board to him in a letter or of him placing the book under the board, they could have just as easily edited out the scene of her finding the book, except that would have left the 'promise' to get it to her hanging in the air. It would seem to me, leaving the book would be a way he could still reach out when she stopped picking up letters. A determined man who was resourceful enough and knew architecture, could figure out that was a way to do it, especially if he knew she already had complained about the squeek. So it was probably a editing choice seeking a best-compromise.

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    another example, earlier he mentions the year, she's sitting with the dog going through pictures looking for something from the (his) same year. She says to the dog "remember that year? You were not happy" but then the next scene shows him the following morning with the dog walking behind him. So the dog was apparently in two places at once (although he's not shown in the photo, but her comment suggests she had him too at the time)
    – Scott
    Commented Aug 13, 2022 at 20:13

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