User Score
7.5

Generally favorable reviews- based on 30 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 26 out of 30
  2. Negative: 3 out of 30
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  1. StephenS.
    Nov 10, 2003
    5
    Having almost sabotaged her film, Cholodenko redeems herself with two "money shots" carrying genuine emotional impact. That is to say, when the wife and mother of the male lead (Christian Bale) declare their true feelings for him. There's nothing intrinsically wrong with the concept. A serious young med student gets into all kinds of emotional strife by taking his serious young bride Having almost sabotaged her film, Cholodenko redeems herself with two "money shots" carrying genuine emotional impact. That is to say, when the wife and mother of the male lead (Christian Bale) declare their true feelings for him. There's nothing intrinsically wrong with the concept. A serious young med student gets into all kinds of emotional strife by taking his serious young bride to stay with his embarrassingly louche record-producer mother. Problem one is casting. Frances McDormand is great as mother Jane, a difficult role combining heart, intelligence and lust. Alessandro Nivola coolly plays the cocky Brit pop singer having the affair with her. But how could anyone put Kate Beckinsale up against a trouper like McDormand, especially as Alex, super-brain scrabble player and genetics researcher? When we're still in recovery from Nicole Kidman's weird concept of Virginia Woolf? Problem two is motivation. No sooner arrived at Jane's house, our budding PhD files away her inhibitions and unwraps a remarkably eclectic Laurel Canyon libido. This complete behavioural U-turn is accompanied by scarcely any demonstration that Alex would actually have any such leanings. Then there's the cinematic style, oscillating between Junior Auteur and Sex in the City meets E.R. Finally, there's the finale, where Cholodenko simply closes up shop abruptly. I might buy this kind of anticlimax from someone like John Sayles, but only just. Expand
  2. MarcK.
    Apr 12, 2003
    6
    This film wasn't bad, but nowhere near what I see some of these critics are giving it. Frances McDormand is a favorite of mine, but I fail to see the incredible performance that all these critics have seen. Most interesting performance? Definitely Natascha McElhone. However, the worst casting is Kate Beckinsale. She is far too hot to be playing a moussy, naive geek. She does a good This film wasn't bad, but nowhere near what I see some of these critics are giving it. Frances McDormand is a favorite of mine, but I fail to see the incredible performance that all these critics have seen. Most interesting performance? Definitely Natascha McElhone. However, the worst casting is Kate Beckinsale. She is far too hot to be playing a moussy, naive geek. She does a good American accent though. Expand
  3. J.RyanG.
    Jun 17, 2005
    6
    Films shouldn't have to try this hard.
Metascore
61

Generally favorable reviews - based on 36 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 19 out of 36
  2. Negative: 2 out of 36
  1. The cast is as likable as it is improbable (especially Nivola, who all but steals the movie as the charmingly decadent rocker).
  2. 60
    McDormand is the best thing about Laurel Canyon. She's also the most unfortunate victim of a film that seems unable or unwilling to give even its most intriguing and compulsively watchable character her due.
  3. 60
    The spectacle of pretty people floating languidly across the screen notwithstanding, Laurel Canyon is short on conviction and long on contrivance. McDormand, however, has a ball.