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Laurel Canyon (2002)

R | | Drama | 28 March 2003 (USA)
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2:06 | Trailer
When an uptight young man and his fiancee move into his libertine mother's house, the resulting clash of life attitudes shakes everyone up.

Director:

Lisa Cholodenko

Writer:

Lisa Cholodenko
2 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Frances McDormand ... Jane
Christian Bale ... Sam
Kate Beckinsale ... Alex
Natascha McElhone ... Sara
Alessandro Nivola ... Ian McKnight
Lou Barlow ... Fripp (as Louis Knox Barlow)
Russell Pollard Russell Pollard ... Rowan
Imaad Wasif Imaad Wasif ... Dean
Mickey Petralia Mickey Petralia ... Mickey
Melissa De Sousa ... Claudia
Alexandra Carter Alexandra Carter ... Darla
Michelle DeMirjian Michelle DeMirjian ... China (as Michelle Demirjian)
Rick Gonzalez ... Wyatt
Dennis Howard Dennis Howard ... Mr. Elliot
Catherine McGoohan ... Mrs. Elliot
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Storyline

Newly graduated psychiatrist Sam and his fiancee Alex move to Los Angeles for Sam's residency and into Sam's mother's house in upscale Laurel Canyon. Only problem is, Sam's mother is still there, supposedly finishing up a record that she's producing for the band of her new boy toy, Ian. She seems more interested in smoking pot and drinking than actually working though. Alex doesn't mind but Sam is quite upset. Alex starts off focused on her work (finishing a dissertation on genomics), but is soon distracted by the rock-'n-roll lifestyle going on around her. Meanwhile, Sam is equally distracted by beautiful Israeli intern Sara. Written by Jon Reeves <jreeves@imdb.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

On the road to the perfect life, Sam & Alex took a little detour.

Genres:

Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for sexuality, language and drug use | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

28 March 2003 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Laurel Canyon See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$149,099, 9 March 2003

Gross USA:

$3,663,356

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$4,412,203
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Of the five main actors in this movie, only one, Frances McDormand, uses her own accent. The others are: a Welshman (Christian Bale) performing an American accent; an English woman (Kate Beckinsale) performing an American accent; an American man (Alessandro Nivola) performing a British accent; and an English woman (Natascha McElhone) performing an Israeli accent. See more »

Goofs

On the plane, Sam and Alex ask for scotch and juice, respectively. The stewardess hands them a bottle (presumably of scotch), a glass of ice, and an empty glass. See more »

Quotes

Sara: I just... I don't really know you, I... I just feel connected to you, I feel... I feel safe with you. Like it's okay to be honest. It's just one of those things. I'm just attracted to you. And it's not just because I think you're incredibly sexy.
Sam: [laughs, exhales, scratches his head] I think that you're incredibly attractive too, Sara, I do.
Sara: You do?
Sam: Yeah, I think about you. Trust me. A lot.
Sara: How do you think about me?
Sam: How?
Sara: Yeah. Do you think about me having sex with you?
Sam: Yeah.
Sara: How?
Sam: How do I think...
[...]
See more »

Crazy Credits

Special thanks to Christie Gaumer & Shakespeare and to Red Hot Chili Peppers. See more »

Connections

Featured in Maltin on Movies: The Dark Knight Rises (2012) See more »

Soundtracks

Oscar Brown
Written by Baxter Dury and Lou Reed
Performed by Baxter Dury
Courtesy of Rough Trade Records
Includes a sample of "Oh Sweet Nothin'"
See more »

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User Reviews

Interesting look at interesting people
9 March 2003 | by tprofumoSee all my reviews

Lisa Cholodenko's first film, 1998's "High Art," was a fascinating look at ambition and what some people will do to satisfy their need to get to the top. That made it a highly relevant film, especially for Americans.

This second feature is no where as powerful as her debut film and doesn't seem to say nearly as much, except maybe that even orderly lifes can encounter bumps along the way, and that the disorderly, the irresponsible and the drug addicted have morals, too, or at least, there are lines even they won't cross.

The film tells the tale of a young doctor who flies to LA with his fiancee to begin a residency in a hospital there. They intend to stay at his mother's Laurel Canyon home, only to discover that Mom, who is supposed to be in Malibu, is using the house and its home recording studio to produce a record for a rock band. Mom, it seems, is a highly successful record producer with a string of lovers both male and female that would apparently put Mick Jagger to shame. And like the Mick, she's also rarely without some controlled substance in hand.

Mom and her-son-the-doctor only tolerate each other and from the moment he and his girlfriend move in, doc is on the lookout for other digs. The girlfriend, a slightly up tight Ph.d. candidate working on her thesis, surprisingly enough immediately fits in with Mom and her rock band friends. She finds herself lured to the recording studio a lot more often than she is lured to her laptop to write about the mating habits of the fruit fly. Meanwhile, her boy friend finds himself attracted to a sexy second year intern who virtually throws herself at him.

That's essentially the story, and it is a very well acted and well directed one. Frances McDormand is very good as the mom. Christian Bale is Ok, although nothing special, as her son. Kate Beckinsale is excellent(and marvelous to look at) as the girlfriend and Allesandro Nivola is very good as the leader of the band.

So what are my gripes about this film? The big one is that it is a character study and nothing more, but unfortunately, its thin in the character building department. This film runs just 101 minutes and when it ended, I was quite surprised that it was over. That gave me the feeling that it suffered from a thin budget and that the director may have rung everything she could out of the bucks she had to work with. That's too bad, because another 10 to 15 minutes could have made all the difference in the world with this movie, lifting it from a good film to a very good film.

I just never quite got what the doc's gripe was with his mom, since she'd apparently nurtured him enough to get him through Harvard medical school, something most "abandoned kids" don't really accomplish. I also never got a clear picture of what Mom was after in life, save another hit record and a few more years of good sex with her current squeeze. Actually, maybe that was all that was on her mind, but she should have had some bigger goals to up the stakes a little.

The film's strength was that it was populated by people we don't meet everyday, from McDormand's quiet lioness of a mom, to Nivola's hedonistic, yet highly intelligent young rock singer. Even Beckinsale's character, a somewhat repressed intellectual who finds herself tempted to try a little hedonism herself, seemed different and intriguing.

But I needed a lot more back story or front story or something, because in the end, the infidelity that was supposed to be the big risk in this picture, really came off as a chance for nothing more than a little voyerism on the audience's part. I never really knew if Bale and Beckinsale were right for each other in the first place, so it never really mattered to me if one or the other of them strayed, or even moved on to other partners.

In the end, the story sort of sinks because of that, but survives anyway on the strength of the acting of McDormand, Beckinsale and Nivola, with Bale coming in a distant fourth in my view. Anyway, I give it a qualified thumbs up and hope Lisa Cholodenko can find a bigger budget to work with next time around.


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