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Laurel Canyon (2003)



Average Rating: 6.4/10
Reviews Counted: 110
Fresh: 75 | Rotten: 35

Though the movie itself is flawed, McDormand is fantastic as Jane.


Average Rating: 6.3/10
Critic Reviews: 32
Fresh: 20 | Rotten: 12

Though the movie itself is flawed, McDormand is fantastic as Jane.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.2/5
User Ratings: 9,052

My Rating

Movie Info

Writer/director Lisa Cholodenko follows up her much-acclaimed 1997 debut High Art with this examination of a young couple seduced into a hedonistic, left-coast lifestyle. Taking its title from its central locale, Laurel Canyon focuses on a pair of upper-middle class lovebirds from the East Coast who relocate to Los Angeles. Freshly minted from Harvard, Sam (Christian Bale) and Alex (Kate Beckinsale) are eager to continue their medical studies out West, but they need some lodging while they hunt


Art House & International, Drama

Lisa Cholodenko

Jul 15, 2003


Sony Pictures Classics - Official Site External Icon

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October 19, 2006:
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This week at the movies, we've got a complex tale of heroism (Clint Eastwood's "Flags of Our...


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All Critics (121) | Top Critics (36) | Fresh (75) | Rotten (35) | DVD (19)

The movie's contrivances begin to rankle.

April 25, 2003 Full Review Source: Miami Herald
Miami Herald
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Fizzles out in the third act, but we're long past caring. By then, Frances McDormand has usurped the movie and turned it into a lesson in character acting.

April 24, 2003 Full Review Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Self-discovery seems to be the goal, but the revelations hardly seem worth the work.

April 18, 2003
Arizona Republic
Top Critic IconTop Critic

McDormand is superb. Likewise Bale and Nivola.

April 17, 2003
Philadelphia Inquirer
Top Critic IconTop Critic

If there is one reason to see Laurel Canyon, it's to witness McDormand in the kind of role she's long deserved.

April 11, 2003 Full Review Source: Washington Post
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Laurel Canyon's end isn't entirely satisfying, but the story works.

April 11, 2003 Full Review Source: Houston Chronicle
Houston Chronicle
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It's a story about how people get seduced by Los Angeles. That still happens, you know.

August 11, 2011 Full Review Source: East Bay Express
East Bay Express

As a follow up to High Art, this melodrama is not as good or provocative as Cholodenko's debut. Even so, the film deals with female (lesbian) sexuality and as such deserves recognition.

April 21, 2011 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com

It pulled me in with its friendly, inclusive, nonjudgmental appraisal of human nature.

September 24, 2007 Full Review Source:

Despite a great ensemble of actors, it will leave you hanging from a cliff.

August 13, 2004 Full Review Source: Oregon Herald

'We're left with a film that doesn't create enough interest in what went on in those Laurel Canyon backyards to justify pulling over and watching.'

March 3, 2004 Full Review Source: Las Vegas CityLife

No matter how many times she pushes her specs up her nose Beckinsale is never going to be believable as a nerd. Bale as a psychiatrist: it's easier to envisage him as Batman.

November 14, 2003 Full Review Source: Teletext | Comment (1)

Frances McDormand lets loose in a terrific new role as record producer, mother, and corrupter of curious girls.

October 24, 2003 Full Review Source:

'Laurel Canyon' is a little dangerous, a bit unconventional and very seductive.

October 4, 2003 Full Review Source: ReelTalk Movie Reviews
ReelTalk Movie Reviews

...essentially worth checking out if only for the performances and Cholodenko's admittedly steady directorial hand.

July 20, 2003 Full Review Source: Reel Film Reviews
Reel Film Reviews

Real people, real situations. Laurel Canyon is a keeper.

July 3, 2003 Full Review Source: Movie Boeuf
Movie Boeuf

McElhone and Bale are more overt, acting mostly with rigid faces, tousled hair and at least 64 shiny, well-displayed teeth.

June 6, 2003 Full Review Source: Charlotte Observer
Charlotte Observer

From the choice of L.A.'s musical bohemia to finding the right tension in each scene, director Lisa Cholodenko has hit another home run.

June 4, 2003 Full Review Source:

With vocal inflections and a caring glance, McDormand rescues the mother-son dynamic that twists through Canyon like the famed Mulholland Drive.

May 28, 2003 Full Review Source: Flipside Movie Emporium
Flipside Movie Emporium

Interesting and distinctive but held back from greatness by forcing complex characters through tidy character arcs.

May 21, 2003 Full Review Source: Film Experience
Film Experience

An enjoyable little film about fidelity and intimacy among different generations. Worth seeing just for McDormand's performance.

May 6, 2003 Full Review Source: Des Moines Register
Des Moines Register

Laurel Canyon telegraphs far too much of its unoriginal story to genuinely hold our interest. We find ourselves wishing we could leave these characters nattering in the living room and wander around the house looking at the souvenirs and photographs. We'r

May 5, 2003 Full Review
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

How far can you follow the psychosexual exploits of folks you aren't all that drawn to in the first place?

May 2, 2003 Full Review Source: Orlando Weekly
Orlando Weekly

Cholodenko has made a huge mistake in casting Bale and Beckinsale as her leads. While their blandness seems to be appropriate for the characters they're played, neither is very interesting.

May 2, 2003 Full Review Source: Deseret News, Salt Lake City
Deseret News, Salt Lake City

By the time Laurel Canyon closes, we're left with a number of dangling subplots, lots of questions and two hideously unbelievable reconciliations.

May 2, 2003

Just when you thought the "La-La Land" cliche ... had been done to death, along comes the indie-film variation in Laurel Canyon.

May 2, 2003 Full Review Source: Salt Lake Tribune
Salt Lake Tribune

Audience Reviews for Laurel Canyon

Relatively subtle, decently played inter-generational relationship drama - ultimately... kinda unsatisfying as a story. Felt like the film-maker had good characters, actors and settings... but it kinda went fffftt. Could have been good.

Reminded me a little of Beatty and Ashby's Shampoo.

I dug the establishing aerial sequence.
January 22, 2008

Super Reviewer

A good dramatic story with a comedic side. It relies on the acting talents to carry the story, who do that quite well. Christian Bale, Kate Beckinsale and Frances McDormand all gave strong performances and worked quite well together. I feel that the movie lacked a message, but it was still enjoyable.
November 20, 2009

Super Reviewer

"Christan Bale and Kate Beckansale deliver a wonderful delight"

I really enjoyed this movie. This one of Christan Bale's first and best films. Its about alot of things like affairs, relationships, mother and son, and rockers who do anything for sex. Its a big drama that anyone can enjoy. Watch this movie because it delivers more than you'd think.
August 6, 2008
Corey Wood

Super Reviewer

    1. Jane: Who plans on a change of plan? That would be sort of paranoid, don't you think?
    – Submitted by Frances H (4 months ago)
    1. Sara: Anyone's tolerable for a few weeks.
    – Submitted by Frances H (4 months ago)
View all quotes (2)

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