**½/**** Image A Sound A- Extras B-
starring Frances McDormand, Christian Bale, Kate Beckinsale, Natascha McElhone
written and directed by Lisa Cholodenko
by Walter Chaw Buoyed by a fantastic performance from Frances McDormand, Lisa Cholodenko's follow-up to her deft, well-regarded High Art is the disappointing, sprawling, somewhat overreaching Laurel Canyon. In its ambition it resembles Rose Troche's third film, The Safety of Objects--that picture also saddled with a large, veteran cast and a problem with focus, but most importantly with the responsibility of a young filmmaker given the opportunity, with a bigger budget and well-regarded performers, to produce a piece commensurate in scale to that perceived expectation. The problem with the situation is that more times than not it leads to the type of film that Laurel Canyon is: ostentatious in structure, but in that way also a departure from the succinct character observations that brought the young artist the opportunity in the first place.