Christian Bale, Kate Beckinsale and Frances McDormand star in Laurel Canyon, a moderately intriguing drama about love, sex and discovery that never amounts to anything exceptionally good, but can't be considered a waste of time, either. Bale stars as Sam, a recently graduated Med student who has dragged his rich and uptight fiancé, Alex (Beckinsale), to Los Angeles to start a new life together. They temporarily move in with his mom (Frances McDormand), a record producer who leads a very relaxed lifestyle. She is currently recording a new album on her property and sleeping with the lead singer; these people are about as different from Sam and Alex as can be imagined. However, as Sam struggles to keep his mom in line, Alex begins to open up and realize that she rather enjoys this different kind of lifestyle; however, does that include Sam? Laurel Canyon works well on many levels, but by the end it is unclear as to what the real purpose of the movie is. There are obvious themes underlying the plot, but the one thing that hurts the movie is that it never really establishes a point. Is it trying to say that Sam and Alex aren't right for each other because they have never truly opened up, or is it saying that all people should just relax and go with the flow? Or is it something else? Who knows, and writer/director Lisa Cholodenko didn't seem to think that anyone would care. That being said, the actually content of the movie flows pretty well and is never dull. While Bale's character is at times annoying, Beckinsale really shines in one of her sexiest roles to date. She, of course, changes the most over the course of the movie, and that makes her the most interesting to watch (beside the fact that she is just nice to look at). Laurel Canyon is a decent movie, but the ending seems inconclusive and bland. There is nothing especially noteworthy about the film, but at the same time there is very little that can be said negatively about it.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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