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Laurel Canyon (2002)

Cast: Frances McDormand, Frances McDormand, Christian Bale, more...
Director: Lisa Cholodenko, Lisa Cholodenko
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Studio: Columbia TriStar
Genre: Drama, Independent, Erotica
Running Time: 103 min.
Languages: English
Subtitles: French
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Writer/director Lisa Cholodenko follows up her much-acclaimed 1997 debut High Art with this examination of a young couple seduced into a hedonistic, left-coast lifestyle. Taking its title from its central locale, Laurel Canyon focuses on a pair of upper-middle class lovebirds from the East Coast who relocate to Los Angeles. Freshly minted from Harvard, Sam (Christian Bale) and Alex (Kate Beckinsale) are eager to continue their medical studies out West, but they need some lodging while they hunt for a home. Enter Jane (Frances McDormand), Sam's estranged, Age-of-Aquarius mom, who's more than willing to put the couple up in her lavish digs. Jane is a successful record producer whose latest charge -- both in the studio and in her bedroom -- is Ian (Alessandro Nivola), a brazen, libidinous twentysomething Brit-rocker. As Sam and Alex settle in at Jane's, they gradually lose their straight-and-narrow approach to life and begin to experiment. Alex takes to Ian and Jane, while Sam is wooed by co-worker Sara (Natascha McElhone). Laurel Canyon features a score by Shudder to Think's Craig Wedren; the music for Ian's band was provided by Sparklehorse's Mark Linkous and indie-rockers Folk Implosion. ~ Michael Hastings, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

Beware the Dark Side by Redcoffin December 14, 2003 - 11:03 AM PST
5 out of 6 members found this review helpful
A couple of uptight New England preppies travel to wealthy, steamy, wicked Los Angeles and find themselves pulled towards the dark side. Very well-acted, with great music; the scene of a band cutting a song in a rich producer's private studio has rarely been more lovingly depicted. Story basically the same set-up as in Henry James' The Ambassadors, about the upright, cautious, decent person confronting the persistent American unease that bad people have more fun and get to live, while good people sacrifice themselves and get nothing. Poor Sam and Alex never even have a chance -- the deck is stacked against them from the start, but the story never reaches a really cathartic climax, and the crisis seems oddly trivial. That weakened the film for me, while the open ending left me feeling as though I'd watched an unusually well-made TV pilot. A charming, surprisingly delicate but definitely lightweight film.

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 6.22)
178 Votes
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Cannes Film Festival & More - 2002
Official Selection, Certain Regards... and more. Here is a bit more information on the films screened at the Cannes. I have attempted to list all the films that were considered for an award as well as any special screenings.
Hal Hartley Hits and Other Kicks (Of Mine)
Great Movies Spanning Many Genres

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