Frances McDormand, Christian Bale, Kate Beckinsale, Alessandro Nivola,
Directed by: Lisa Cholodenko Produced by: Susan A. Stover, Jeff
Levy-Hinte, Susan Strover
Written by: Lisa Cholodenko
Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics
Bale and Kate Beckinsdale
Take one grown up kid utterly embarassed by his way too cool mother
who still snorts coke and screws rock stars of any sex and you have
the story of every mother's son. (Well not every mother's son, not all
of us get that lucky.)
We become the opposite of our parents and Christian Bale playing the
uptight son engaged to the ultra restrained Kate Beckinsdale character
is doing it all by the numbers. He has grown up to be a psychiatrist
and rejects the 'party' lifestyle. The mother, a record producer, played
with verve and relish by Frances McDormand, ( there's a kind of wasted
Madonna about her) just can't let go of the good times and grow up,
even though she knows she ought to.
Then there is the classic English Rockband in the recording studio at
the bottom of her Laurel Canyon home. Funny, writing some pretty good
songs and delivering intersting coherent performances they are an essential
element to this story. Mix this all up with another woman, Natascha
McElhone (playing an Isreali Psychiatric intern) who wants Christian
Bale and thinks she can temp him away from the uptight Kate Beckinsdale.
It should be easy, but our boy is in a straight jacket of his own making
and can't let himself go. His fiance meanwhile is being seduced by his
mother and the rockband. Allessandro Nivola in particular proves to
be fascinating and she discovers temptations and desires she has long
suppressed. Kate Beckinsdale plays with her virginal image to good effect
and she really opens up in this role.
Laurel Canyon is
natural, easy on the eye, a perfect little movie that seems at once
terribly familiar and yet alluring. It is crafted with real human instinct
and feels very real. it is emotionally rewarding and frustrating and
a visual treat.
A small budget movie with limited release, yet it deserves a wide audience.
Besides dross like the 'The Core' or the current top of the charts movies,
this is a total treat and make the effort to seek it out before it disappears.
© Sam North - April 7th 2003
all rights reserved