This mediocre morality drama "Laurel Canyon" has been widely touted as a midlife coming-out party for newly self-sexualized actress Frances McDormand. Evidently, nothing says empowerment like playfully flashing your breasts from underneath a vintage KISS tour tee.
McDormand gets to do just that in her role as Jane, a middle-aged record producer holed up in a sun-dappled L.A. home with a snore-rock band whose album she is struggling to complete. Into the semidecadent fray walk Jane's son, Sam (Christian Bale), a stiff young psychiatrist-in-residence, and his wife, Alex (Kate Beckinsale), a fellow med-school grad trying to complete a dissertation on Drosophilia Genomics. Sam is visibly repulsed by his mother's eternal adolescence, but Alex develops a curious attraction to the bacchanalian lifestyle maintained by Jane and her slap-happy studio ducklings. There's copious drug intake to get in on. And free-swinging sexual experimentation. Plus, they've got a pool.
The Freudian HTH gets pretty thick from there on in, but McDormand, as always, is a paragon of actorly virtues. She completely nails the persona of a successful music producer: chummy enough to keep her clients relaxed, yet able to crack the whip in moments of 11th-hour aimlessness. What writer/director Lisa ("High Art") Cholodenko doesn't realize is that, from a motivational standpoint, recording musicians are just about the least interesting people on the face of the planet, second only to ... recent med-school graduates. How far can you follow the psychosexual exploits of folks you aren't all that drawn to in the first place? About halfway down Laurel Canyon, as it turns out.
We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Orlando Weekly. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Orlando Weekly, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Orlando Weekly works for you, and your support is essential.
Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Central Florida.
Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.
Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Orlando’s true free press free.