Laurel Canyon

June 5th, 2003


Laurel Canyon

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Christian Bale, Kate Beckinsale and Lisa Cholodenko in Laurel CanyonStill of Kate Beckinsale in Laurel CanyonAlessandro Nivola at event of Laurel CanyonStill of Frances McDormand and Alessandro Nivola in Laurel CanyonLisa Cholodenko directs.Still of Kate Beckinsale in Laurel Canyon

When an uptight young man and his fiancee move into his libertine mother's house, the resulting clash of life attitudes shakes everyone up.

Release Year: 2002

Rating: 6.5/10 (9,237 voted)

Critic's Score: 61/100

Director: Lisa Cholodenko

Stars: Frances McDormand, Alessandro Nivola, Christian Bale

Newly graduated psychiatrist Sam and his fiancee Alex move to Los Angeles for Sam's residency, 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.

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 - Rowan
Imaad Wasif - Dean
Mickey Petralia - Mickey
Melissa De Sousa - Claudia
Alexandra Carter - Darla
Michelle DeMirjian - China (as Michelle Demirjian)
Rick Gonzalez - Wyatt
Dennis Howard - Mr. Elliot
Catherine McGoohan - Mrs. Elliot

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


Official Website: Official site [United States] |

Release Date: 5 June 2003

Filming Locations: Los Angeles, California, USA

Opening Weekend: $149,099 (USA) (9 March 2003) (10 Screens)

Gross: $4,254,158 (Worldwide)

Technical Specs


Did You Know?

Joni Mitchell, who was Lisa Cholodenko's inspiration for the Jane character, is among the musicians in Jane's photo gallery.

Revealing mistakes: 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.

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 about having sex with you?

User Review

A Great Tour -de-Force for McDormand

Rating: 9/10

This is an insightful and truly under-appreciated film. And, as anyone who has lived in the Hollywood/ West Hollywood area can attest, the film is also a very accurate portrayal of LA life in the biz. Bale and Beckinsale shine as well. Definitely McDormand's best work outside of "Fargo"; her versatility and talent continue to amaze and impress. The producers' choice of music is perfect and truly reflects the mood and tone of the film--it makes me want to go out and buy the soundtrack. :) Also, "Laurel Canyon" shows how frail and tenuous life's relationships can be. By straying from the "norms" of his serious, medical student world, Bale understands his mother's complexities and foibles and thus establishes the bond with her that he has possibly sought all his life. Well done!! *** 1/2


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