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Laurel Canyon (2002)

R | | Drama | 28 March 2003 (USA)
2:06 | Trailer
When an uptight young man and his fiancée move into his libertine mother's house, the resulting clash of life attitudes shakes everyone up.


Lisa Cholodenko


Lisa Cholodenko
2 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Frances McDormand ... Jane
Christian Bale ... Sam
Kate Beckinsale ... Alex
Natascha McElhone ... Sara
Alessandro Nivola ... Ian McKnight
Lou Barlow ... Fripp (as Louis Knox Barlow)
Russell Pollard Russell Pollard ... Rowan
Imaad Wasif Imaad Wasif ... Dean
Mickey Petralia Mickey Petralia ... Mickey
Melissa De Sousa ... Claudia
Alexandra Carter Alexandra Carter ... Darla
Michelle DeMirjian Michelle DeMirjian ... China (as Michelle Demirjian)
Rick Gonzalez ... Wyatt
Dennis Howard Dennis Howard ... Mr. Elliot
Catherine McGoohan ... Mrs. Elliot


Newly graduated psychiatrist Sam and his fiancee Alex move to Los Angeles for Sam's residency and into Sam's mother's house in upscale Laurel Canyon. Only problem is, Sam's mother is still there, supposedly finishing up a record that she's producing for the band of her new boy toy, Ian. She seems more interested in smoking pot and drinking than actually working though. Alex doesn't mind but Sam is quite upset. Alex starts off focused on her work (finishing a dissertation on genomics), but is soon distracted by the rock-'n-roll lifestyle going on around her. Meanwhile, Sam is equally distracted by beautiful Israeli intern Sara. Written by Jon Reeves <jreeves@imdb.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


On the road to the perfect life, Sam & Alex took a little detour.



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for sexuality, language and drug use | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


Joni Mitchell, who was Lisa Cholodenko's inspiration for the Jane character, is among the musicians in Jane's photo gallery. See more »


On the plane, Sam and Alex ask for scotch and juice, respectively. The stewardess hands them a bottle (presumably of scotch), a glass of ice, and an empty glass. See more »


Jane: Are we ever gonna have a relationship?
Sam: Here we are - having it.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Special thanks to Christie Gaumer & Shakespeare and to Red Hot Chili Peppers. See more »


References The Lost Battalion (2001) See more »


In a Funny Way
Written by Jonathan Donahue, Sean Mackowiack (as Sean Mackowiak) and Jeff Mercel
Performed by Mercury Rev
Courtesy of V2 Records, Inc.
See more »

User Reviews

Canyon Capers and Château Marmont
6 January 2011 | by AZINDNSee all my reviews

If you were privy to the Laurel Canyon lifestyle in the 60s and 70s, this film is like a retro shock with all the old familiar haunts still there, and the inevitable lost generation of 20 somethings wandering the deer trail lanes of traffic to hang with the musicians. At least, this is how the premise of the 2002 version of the canyon lifestyle is reflected. Between the generation of hippie organic mama (Frances McDormand) and her predictably uptight conservative doctor son (Christian Bale) and his uber egghead grad student girlfriend (Kate Beckinsale) are the silences of a parent who did her thing and a son who didn't.

Literally caught between them is the luscious Beckinsale, who comes to enjoy the hedonism the mother's world of music and a young lover (Allessando Nivola) present. She likes the pot, pool parties, and 3-somes while her fiancé dallies with the sublimated lust for a professional colleague (Natasha McElhone) who is more his cup of straight-laced tea. His resentment of mom's ability to be cool and productive clash with his inability to make decisions about his own lifestyle choices, a serious wife-in-training, his medical practice, and the possibility of affairs with other women. He is as much drawn to sin and swinging as Kate. The tension of the six characters makes the story of kids and their parents failure to communicate as old as the perennial hills.

Great soundtrack with vocals by Nivola and recording sessions are added plus. McDormand is one of the finest character actors around, and she rises to the challenge of taking back seat to Beckinsale's beauty. Nevertheless, McDormand steals the show every time she is on screen. We don't care about the young couple, we care about the three-way between mother, her lover, and her son's lover...that's Hollywood!

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Release Date:

28 March 2003 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Laurel Canyon See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$149,099, 9 March 2003

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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