Frances McDormand, Kate Beckinsale
, Christian Bale
With the ever likable and amusing McDormand, even dissipation seems a sensible lifestyle. She swaggers through Laurel Canyon, a sharply observed comic drama by writer-director Lisa Cholodenko (High Art
), as Jane, a woman of a certain age who happily smokes a bong, bunks with an attentive boy toy (Alesandro Nivola), sleeps half the day away and parties late into the night poolside at her house in L.A. In between, she produces hit songs for rockers at her in-home recording studio.
Watching all this with disapproval are her straitlaced doctor son (Bale) and, at least initially, his fiancée (Beckinsale), who are staying at Mom's place temporarily. The delicate dance these three do on their way toward understanding and tolerance makes for a film that's, if not compelling, at least diverting. (R)
BOTTOM LINE: Viva la Frances