Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Laurel Canyon (2002)

Laurel Canyon (2002) is a wonderful example of female direction. It is a beautiful portrayal of the struggles that exist within human relationships. Lisa Cholodenko paints a picture of love in the 21st century that is incredibly accurate. One cannot help being moved by her attention to the everyday details that are so crucial to modern life.
Small things like fitness, clothing, and movement that occur naturally in everyday life are used by Cholodenko to help explain and develop her characters. For instance, throughout the movie she uses an AC DC t-shirt as a symbol of freedom. The shirt originally belongs to rock star Ian McKnight (Alessandro Nivola), a catalyst character who provokes change throughout the film. However, as the film progresses the audience sees the shirt move from character to character as they evolve to become more like Ian. The shirt goes from Ian to Jane (Frances McDormand). She wears it when she and Alex (Kate Beckinsale), her son Sam’s (Chritian Bale) fiancé, are beginning to bond in her music studio; a real point of development for her character. Similarly we see Alex wearing the shirt when she goes jogging after she begins hanging out with Jane and Ian. Signifying the change that is occurring within the relationships on screen this simple AC DC t-shirt becomes a excellent symbol for rebellion and growth for all three characters. Like two girls wearing their boyfriend’s t-shirt both Alex and Jane find comfort in Ian. He is an affectionate charming character who easily draws Alex from her sickly relationship with Sam who is embarrassed of his mother Jane and her lifestyle.
Overprotective and consumed by his embarrassment of Jane Sam ignores Alex’s needs and becomes distant, a situation that is augmented by his crush on fellow doctor Sara (Natascha McElhone). Only when both Alex and Sam are able to admit to the problems in their seemingly perfect relationship are they able to salvage what remains of their relationship. Laurel Canyon allows Cholodenko to present her stirring commentary on the fallacy that exists in the modern idea of a perfect relationship.


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