Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Laurel Canyon

Retooling Hollywood

Laurel Canyon brought to the surface a tension between two lifestyle choices. A mother, who believes in music, and fun, did not gain the respesct of her son, who is a hard worker and desperate to never be "lost." Both of those characters were comfortable in their situations, however Alex, the girlfriend, needed to explore and experience life. I believe the tension, and the change in Alex and Sam's relationship had to do with Alex becoming more like Sam's mother, and less like Sam.
Props were hugely important in the storyline of Laurel Cayon. The swimming pool seemed to be a transitional ground for both Alex and Sam. The Mother's boyfriend said to Alex once, "dont you want to be in here instead of out there in the cold world?" The water is almost womb-like and probably provided more comfort to Sam, who seems to swim a lot, than his mother was able to. Eventually though, his mother comes to him when he is in the pool, and admits she knows she hasn't been a good mom, and after the phone call from his admirer Sam seems to look at his mother and finally accept, if not understand, her. The water, in that sense almost cleansed him of his prior judgements, and as he ducks under the water, and just floats at the very end- he seems to finally understand. For Alex the pool is her entry into the mother's world of promiscuity, music, and irresponsibility. She later says that she had never experienced breaking the rules before. The swimming pool offered Alex the opportunity to safely try out that lifestyle. The scene when she first took off her clothes and jumped into the water, was almost her initiation into the mothers world.
Another prop that stood out in my mind was the AC/DC shirt. That shirt is passed around between Bobby, the mother, and Alex. Only the three of them wear the shirt, but it symbolizes the connection they have had.
The women's hair, and especially Alex's hair is also representational of her transition. In the very first scene Alex's hair is messy. They have just had sex, and Alex is relaxed and content. However, when they go to a party Alex's hair is perfectly straight, she looks more conservative. As she lives at the mothers house, her hair gets messier and messier- to match the mothers. I think this had a lot to do with our interpertation of her relationship with the mother. Alex looked like she fits in with the mother. She looked comfortable with that crowd. If she had straightened her hair she would not have looked hippy enough to fit in. The hair subtly reinforces Alex's transition.
In the end Alex and Sam end up together, however the movie provides us with an idea that people change from their experiences with other people, and a different location. It showed how in his attempt to "never be lost" Sam did end up a little closed minded, and Alex was able to contribute to his understanding of his mother.


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