Neal Preston
Lisa Schwarzbaum
March 14, 2003 AT 05:00 AM EST

Laurel Canyon

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
R
runtime
103 minutes
Limited Release Date
03/07/03
performer
Christian Bale, Kate Beckinsale, Frances McDormand, Lou Barlow, Natascha McElhone, Alessandro Nivola
director
Lisa Cholodenko
distributor
Sony Pictures Classics
author
Lisa Cholodenko
genre
Drama

We gave it a C+

In the shallow, california-dreamin’ indie Laurel Canyon, Sam (Christian Bale) is the angry adult son of a La-La-holic: His mother, Jane (Frances McDormand), is a Los Angeles record producer as famous for free-swingin’ sex life (of which he’s a by-product) as she is for her musical hits, and Sam has never forgiven her for screwing around when she should have been nurturing. To compensate, the son has become a crashing bore — a whining, humorless psychiatrist-in-training. His soul mate and fiancée, Alex (Kate Beckinsale), is a petulant control freak even more irritating than he is.

The two uptight downers find themselves parked at Jane’s sprawling house in the lush, bohemian L.A. neighborhood that gives writer-director Lisa Cholodenko’s movie its name — they’re Brad and Janet in a ”Rocky Horror Picture Show” all their own, their lives doing a time warp with the stoned musicians sprawled around the joint. And still the characters are tedious, as are the fussy performances of Bale and Beckinsale. Everything good in this rock & roll fantasy belongs to the sexy, worldly-wise McDormand, who makes Jane ripe, real, and irresistible.

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