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Laurel Canyon

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Laurel Canyon is a 2002 drama movie directed by Lisa Cholodenko, starring Frances McDormand, Alessandro Nivola, and Christian Bale. The movie explores a story of conflicts between generations, different lifestyles, and personal choices.

The movie starts with the young couple, Sam (Nivola) and Alex (Kate Beckinsale), moving from the East Coast to LA so that Sam can undertake a psychiatry residency program at a hospital there. However, their plan of living in the apartment that Sam’s mother, Jane (McDormand), promised them has a slight hiccup - she forgot to tell them that she's not in Europe but instead living there with her bandmate, Ian (Bale).

Things are not well between Jane and her son, Sam, as Jane never seemed to prioritize her responsibilities as a mother, focusing instead on her music career. And the Son realizes that after meeting Sam's girlfriend. Furthermore, tensions in Sam and Alex’s relationship start to rise when Alex starts spending time with Jane and Ian, becoming closer to them than she ever was to Sam’s mother. Soon enough, the plot thickens when Alex starts developing romantic feelings for Ian.

Laurel Canyon takes the plot and unfolds it with all the nuances and complexities it deserves. It's not some superficial movie about spoiled LA rich kids, but a character-driven story that doesn't shy away from showing the good, the bad, and the ugly. Especially so, when it comes to the characters of Jane and Alex. Jane is a fascinating character, a woman full of contradictions, living an unconventional life while balancing her passion for music with her responsibilities as a mother. On the other hand, Alex is the complete opposite of Jane - a smart, ambitious young woman who knows what she wants and isn't afraid to go after it.

The movie is also blessed with pitch-perfect performances, especially by Frances McDormand in the role of Jane, showcasing her range from charming to erratic, passionate to merciless. McDormand's performance is electrifying, and she takes Jane to another level, making her far more interesting than what the script allows for. Alessandro Nivola, as Sam, shows how his character is trying to balance family responsibilities with his career, albeit not always succeeding. Christian Bale imbues his character with the right dose of intensity, providing an emotional center to an increasingly complicated situation that feels both earnest and authentic. Kate Beckinsale gives a career-highlight performance and comes into her own as the story progresses.

Lisa Cholodenko decides to keep the music as an important part of the story to reflect the environment of Laurel Canyon. It is a place where musicians and artists come to make their debut and achieve their dreams. The soundtrack is excellent, weaving together Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, and Fleetwood Mac, to name a few, and overall showcases the musical flavor of the place.

Laurel Canyon depicts the ups and downs of being young and in love, balancing career choices, and family obligations. At its core, the movie charismatically depicts the inherent conflict between career aspirations and family responsibilities. In a city like LA, where dreams are made and broken, this conflict offers an engaging insight into the culture and various shades of success.

The movie is highly recommended for anyone seeking a heartfelt and nuanced story with well-developed characters in an authentic setting. It's the perfect movie to stimulate conversations on relationships and family ties while also showing the struggles of aging and moving on. Laurel Canyon may not be for everyone, but for people who love a good character-driven story, it's a must-watch.

Laurel Canyon is a Drama movie released in 2002. It has a runtime of . Critics and viewers have rated it moderate reviews, with an IMDb score of 6.4. It also holds a MetaScore of 61.

How to Watch Laurel Canyon

Where can I stream Laurel Canyon movie online? Laurel Canyon is available to watch and stream, buy on demand, download at Amazon Prime, Apple TV, Amazon, Google Play, YouTube VOD, Vudu. Some platforms allow you to rent Laurel Canyon for a limited time or purchase the movie for downloading.

Lisa Cholodenko
Frances McDormand, Christian Bale, Kate Beckinsale, Natascha McElhone, Alessandro Nivola
Also directed by Lisa Cholodenko
Laurel Canyon is available on .