Mother and child reunion
Lisa Cholodenko's Laurel Canyon is a confidently made high comedy in which an uptight young man (Christian Bale) brings his fiancée (Kate Beckinsale) to live with his bohemian record-producer mom (Frances McDormand) in Los Angeles. Sam has rebelled against his unconventional music-biz upbringing--Jane raised him by herself in a hazy, languid, druggy, sexually free atmosphere. He now has a mania for order. He went to medical school, and is launching a career in psychiatry. Alex, his partner, is a biologist completing her dissertation.
Jane drives Sam crazy. It wasn't his intention to share her Laurel Canyon house; she was supposed to have vacated it. But she gave her beach house away to her last lover, and her current squeeze, a young Brit named Ian (played by the golden-haired Alessandro Nivola, a Yankee with an uncanny gift for playing Englishmen), is ensconced in the studio next door with his band, completing a record.
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