Buried Credits, a column that deep dives into the IMDB pages of favorite actors, directors, and writers to find their lost, forgotten, or unknown film and TV credits, continues this week with works featuring Christian Bale.
Laurel Canyon (2002)
I often attribute Christian Bale’s talent as an actor to his ability to act as intensely as he does, as well as his ability to fully immerse himself in the characters he plays, which has saw him go to some extreme lengths in terms of what he’s prepared to do to his body. However, the true test of an artist is when they do something that they aren’t typically known for and pull it off. Thus we have today’s film: Laurel Canyon. Written and directed by Lisa Cholodenko, the Oscar nominated co-writer and director of The Kids Are All Right, Laurel Canyon follows Sam (Christian Bale) and Alex (Kate Beckinsale) as a recently engaged couple moving to LA to stay in Sam’s mother’s house while he works at a psychiatric ward and Alex works on her dissertation. Unexpectedly, Sam’s mother, Jane (Frances McDormand) is also staying in the house while she works on producing a record for the band she is working with, led by Ian (Alessandro Nivola). All of this messes with Sam a bit, as he seems very set in his ways and doesn’t want anything to change while Alex is experiencing a whole new world of things, as she has been living in a very rich and snooty-like community her whole life and Jane’s way of living is the exact opposite with her incredibly carefree and relaxed lifestyle.
I typically take notes throughout every movie that I watch for Buried Credits so I know and remember specific details to talk about, but this is the first time where I didn’t write down a single thing after the first 10 minutes or so because I was so enthralled. Laurel Canyon is a very chill, grounded, relaxing film and it’s extremely captivating. Cholodenko does absolute wonders crafting such basic realistic characters into people you just love and want to be loved by everyone. Sam is a wonderful study in a character who doesn’t want to think of himself at all, just other people, and that gets in the way of everything eventually; Alex is brought into this entire new world which she is so fascinated about and can’t help exploring, and Jane actually becomes slightly grounded after her experiences throughout the film (Ian stays exactly the same, but that’s a good thing). All the characters show up in this film with their preconceived notions of how life is to be lived and the three of them living together just shatters those thoughts and puts them back together anew by the end of the film and it’s absolutely wonderful.
Known for portraying crazy people, violent characters, and people who like to yell a lot, Christian Bale is arguably his most normal in Laurel Canyon and it’s absolutely breathtaking. From the second he graces the screen – performing sexual favors to his fiance 0 that are there to please he,r and going to bed with just that, he is an adorably sweet character who prioritizes the needs of others over himself; the only people he actively thinks negatively about is himself and his mother. Bale pulls this off with great ease, and he’s almost never been better than he is here. It’s fascinating watching him portray such a simple down-to-earth realistic character so well.
I literally have nothing negative to say about Laurel Canyon. It’s exploration of humanity and sexuality, teaching the audience an important lesson about how important it is sometimes to just lay back and go with the flow, but when it comes to specific moments in life you need to stand up and deal with them, is beautiful. It’s one of the most relaxing, yet serious, films I have ever watched. Furthermore, it has wonderful acting by everyone, especially Christian Bale, as well as a wonderful score. I highly recommend this as a fan of cinema, as well as a fan of Bale. Frances McDormand also arguably gives off one of the best performances of her career here as well.
Come back tomorrow as we delve into a more recent film that has Christian Bale acting under the award winning director of Hero and House of Flying Daggers, Zhang Yimou!