Films: Laurel Canyon

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Laurel Canyon

Laurel Canyon

USA, 2002, 103 Minute Running Time
Genre/Subjects: Archival, Drama, Family Issues, Romantic Comedy
Program: Contemporary World Cinema
Language: English

DIRECTOR: Lisa Cholodenko
Producer: Jeffrey Levy-Hinte, Susan A. Stover, Scott Ferguson
Editor: Amy E. Duddleston
Screenwriter: Lisa Cholodenko
Cinematographer: Wally Pfister
Principal Cast: Frances McDormand, Christian Bale, Kate Beckinsale
US Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics

Laurel Canyon Boulevard, which cuts straight through the Hollywood Hills, has for decades been something of a bohemian enclave, home to artists and counterculture vultures of all types. Among its current residents is Jane (Frances McDormand), a veteran record producer trying to come up with a hit single for the British band whose lead singer, Ian, is her much younger lover.

Jane’s son Sam (Christian Bale) and his fiancée, Alex (Kate Beckinsale), are both recent graduates of Harvard Medical School. Serious and conservative, the two are moving to Los Angeles to complete their studies, planning to stay in the house that Jane had in turn promised to vacate. But once they arrive, Sam is distressed to find her and her band still hard at work in the on-site recording studio. Jane’s carefree alternative lifestyle is anathema to Sam, who has devoted his life to becoming anyone but his mother’s son. Begrudgingly, he and Alex move in until they can make other arrangements. Gradually, however, their tightly controlling grip begins to loosen as Alex finds herself being seduced by Jane and Ian—leaving Sam adrift and vulnerable to the approach of fellow medical resident Sara.

As seen through the lens of SDFF 31 tribute guest Wally Pfister, the sunbleached southern California landscape—backed by the Brit-pop music of Ian’s band—sets the tone for writer-director Lisa Cholodenko’s frank exploration of the intense relationships among seeming opposites.



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