January 03, 2004

Laurel Canyon

laurelcanyon.jpgChristian Bale and Kate Beckinsale play Sam and Alex, a young engaged couple. Sam is doing his psychiatric internship in LA and Alex is joining him while she works on finishing her doctoral thesis in genomics. We meet Alex's parents who are sheltered high society suburbanites on the East Coast. Alex seems like she's on course to follow them. The plan while the young lovers are in LA is that they will stay at the home of Sam's mother while she is away.

When they arrive, they find that Mom's plans have changed because the album she's producing isn't finished yet and the band is staying at the house, too (the lead singer in her bed). Hearing just that much, this sounds like pure farce, but with Frances McDormand playing the mother, the film proceeds in much more interesting directions. McDormand plays an unapologetic sex, drugs, and rock & roll record producer. She's very good at what she does and she doesn't take any shit about who she is. Sam is appalled at his mother's lifestyle. Alex, though, is attracted to the danger and otherness of McDormand's world. While Alex is being seduced by hedonism, Sam is similarly distracted by a fellow intern played by Natascha McElhone.

The movie that results from this setup is a test of Alex's and Sam's commitment both to each other and to their chosen images of themselves. Good meaty performances by the principals captured with intimate direction by Lisa Cholodenko make it a sexy and thought-provoking film.

Posted by jeffy at January 3, 2004 08:20 PM
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