LAUREL CANYON **
CAST: Frances McDormand, Christian Bale, Kate
Beckinsale, Natascha McElhone, Alessandro Nivola, Louis Knox Barlow,
Russell Pollard, Imaad Wasif, Mickey Petralia, Melissa De Sousa
DIRECTOR: Lisa Cholodenko
earnest Harvard Medical School grad travels to L.A. with his sexy
fiancee and moves in with his mom, a boozy, dope-smoking record
producer who doesnt hesitate to let the entire worldor
at least the entire world of Southern Calknow that she has
slept with a bushel of men and a heap of women in her time. The
question is, what will the budding medic do if he finds out his
bride-to-be has come down with a case of heroine worship for his
mother? And will hot momma act on her hormonal urge and take her
future daughter-in-law to beda maneuver that would please
her current young lover, a British rock singer who gets off on threesomes?
Meanwhile, down at the lab, an aggressive, curvaceous doctor is
making a play for sonny boy.
Enough of this Freudian froth. What you need to know is, does the
comedy/drama/musical play any better than it sounds? The answer,
alas, is only a tiny bit. And thats solely because of Frances
McDormand, who manages to bring warmth, humor and an edgy earthiness
to the character of the wayward mother, a woman who, at heart, is
a deluded narcissist who fancies herself a free-spirited artist.
Writer-director Lisa Cholodenko, who created a small stir with "High
Art," should immediately make a pitch to this miracle worker
for her next film. My advice to McDormand, however, is to run, not
walk, toward the nearest exit.
For the record, the roles of son, fiancee and lady doctor are played
with breathtaking sobriety by Christian Bale, Kate Beckinsale and
Natascha McElhone. A drearier trio than this is simply not to be
found. They should have followed the lead of Alessandro Nivola.
Cast in the role of the horny rocker, Nivola obviously knew he was
stuck in a sick joke and decided to play it for cheap laughs.