Laurel Canyon: Neal Preston
Kimberly Reyes
July 15, 2003 AT 04:00 AM EDT

In her second film, Laurel Canyon, writer- director Lisa Cholodenko showcases more of the shrewd insight into the paranoid bohemian psyche that was on display in her impressive debut, ”High Art.” Alex (Kate Beckinsale) and Sam (Christian Bale), a striking engaged couple, decide to spend a few months with Sam’s freewheeling music-producer mom, Jane (Frances McDormand), and her unruly cohorts in L.A. The sexual tension between the couple and their forbidden counterparts starts to build almost as soon as the betrothed drop their designer luggage, and it crescendos as they push, and ultimately destroy, traditional fidelity boundaries. EXTRAS Listening to Cholodenko talk about her inspiration — Joni Mitchell’s 1970 album ”Ladies of the Canyon” — on the commentary gives this atmospheric movie even more subtext.

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