“LAUREL CANYON,” is an unusual and unpredictable “independent” film,
slightly flawed but ultimately enjoyable.
This innovative character study introduces the viewer to an interesting couple, both intelligent over-achievers, about to make career moves to California, a move that will alter their perspective on everything that’s happened to them earlier. Christian Bale is outstanding as Sam, recently offered a psychiatric residency at an LA hospital. His beautiful fiance’, Alex(Kate Beckinsale) is also intelligent. Having just earned a medical degree from the same school as Sam(Harvard) she’s working on an advanced degree in genetics.
Both of these people have very different families, and “LAUREL CANYON” explores just how both influence them. Frances McDormand plays Sam’s free-spirited mother, whose lifestyle has created many a horrible memory for him, and unfortunately, little has changed. How he deals with these memories, has a huge impact on where he’s heading, and when he almost accidentally runs over a beautiful woman, the relationship that begins, also has life-changing ramifications. It’s a complicated but worthwhile study of the human condition.
COLUMBIA TRISTAR has preserved the correct 1.85:1 aspect ratio, with 16:9 enhancement. For a modestly budgeted film, the image is incredible! There’s excellent detail in every scene. Colors are often rich, and contrast offers a surprising amount of clarity in even the darkest scenes. There are no artifacts, and fleshtones appear natural throughout.
COLUMBIA TRISTAR has presented a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix. While there’s some minor separation in the front soundstage, surround usage is sparse. Being a “dialogue-driven” film, it’s always intelligible and free from distortion.
Writer/director Lisa Cholodenko offers insight in the featurette included here. Running about twenty minutes, she explores the influences leading to the script’s development as well as her reasoning behind musical selections.
COLUMBIA TRISTAR has also included an audio commentary with Chododenko. Certain aspects are redundant, having been commented upon in the featurette, but there’s a great deal of insight here, and fans of the film will enjoy it.
There are also several trailers included.