Laurel Canyon
2003
When Sam (Christian Bale) takes Alex (Kate Beckinsale) home to meet his mom, Jane (Frances McDormand), he's worried his fiancée will be embarrassed by his family. Instead, Alex becomes inexplicably drawn to Jane's and her boyfriend's (Alessandro Nivola) lives -- leaving Sam vulnerable to the attentions of another woman. Writer Lisa Cholodenko (High Art) also directs this complicated tale of love and lust.

Scott Hardie: “It ruled.”

All of the actors here strive to define their characters, but they must all bear the burden of terrible miscasting. Only McDormand breaks free to create a three-dimensional character, and only with hers could you have an interesting conversation. It’s a shame that the film didn’t focus more on its characters, where it had some potential for greatness, instead of laboring towards its plot's inevitable conclusion. Funny as some of the lines are (especially from Navilo), is there a single scene in this film that doesn’t serve primarily to further the plot? Warmth and humor help, but something big’s missing.

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