Cinema Consults: Laurel Canyon

Lisa A.Tomaszewski

Physician's Money Digest, March15 2004, Volume 11, Issue 5

This film, which can be rented from your local video store, is rated on a scale of 1 to 4 caducei:

LAUREL CANYON

Laurel Canyon,

(2002): Most married couples recall with fond memories, and sometimes minor anxieties, the first time they introduced their spouse to their parents. Oftentimes this meeting reveals the source of all the idiosyncrasies and penchants that make up a person. In the film Sam (Christian Bale), a recent graduate of Harvard Medical School, brings his bride-to-be, Alex (Kate Beckinsale), also an MD who is working on her doctorate, to temporarily set up lodging with his wild record producer mother, Jane (Francis McDormand). The ensuing clash of personalities and sensibilities reveals the childhood wounds of Sam and the hedonistic temptations of both the straightlaced Alex and the perpetually reserved Sam. This character drama does well simply because of the strength of its actors. The plot struggles along and never really settles into a proper conclusion, which may be part of the film's charm. However, I think that the script asks a little too much of its characters, especially Alex. Her actions are a 180-degree switch from who she is initially, with no clear motivation for this extreme turnaround. McDormand does a great job creating a character who is larger than life, fascinating to watch, and still believable.

Rating: 2 1/2

Lisa A. Tomaszewski, managing editor of Physician's Money Digest, is currently working on her PhD in literature at Drew University in New Jersey. She is an avid fan of film and has taught a summer film course at Fairleigh Dickinson University. She welcomes questions, comments, or suggestions for future film reviews at 732-656-1140 ext 195 or ltomaszewski@mwc.com.