DARLING COMPANION Send This Review to a Friend
It is sad to see fine actors stranded in the boring “Darling Companion,” a film directed by Lawrence Kasdan, who co-wrote it with his wife, Meg Kasdan. Although it deals in large part with the love for a dog, even dog lovers are likely to find the film wanting.
Of course, when you have actors like Kevin Kline, Diane Keaton and Dianne Wiest in a movie, there are bound to be some redeeming moments, and there is a sturdy supporting cast. It is the story that sinks the film.
The scene is a suburb of Denver, where Keaton as Beth and Kline as Joseph find themselves in a blah marriage. He’s a surgeon and she is a frustrated mom who no longer has her daughters at home. Beth and Joseph bicker, although there is still a bond between them.
The plot is fueled when Beth is driving along a highway with her daughter Grace, played by Elisabeth Moss, and Beth spots a forlorn dog at the side of the road. Rescuing the animal, they take him to a vet. Romance blossoms between Grace and Sam, the vet (Jay Ali).
Back to the dog, given the name Freeway. Joseph is less than enthusiastic about having a pet, but Freeway becomes very much part of the family. Joseph gets the blame when, a year later, at a wedding celebration for Grace and Sam at a country cabin high in the Rockies, Freeway disappears. A hunt begins, and the film is primarily organized around the search in a situation that becomes increasingly desperate for Beth.
Within the framework we get to meet other characters, Dianne Wiest as Penny, Joseph’s sister, and Richard Jenkins as Russell, Penny’s new boyfriend who is viewed as an exploitative interloper. We also get to know Bryan (Mark Duplass), who is a surgeon working with Joseph. Good-looking, sexy caretaker Carmen, portrayed by Ayelet Zurer, claims to have clairvoyant powers. There are added elements, but the idea is that in the effort to find Freeway, relationships are explored and tested.
As for casting of Freeway, two dogs were given the job, one named Kasey, a Collie mix, and Kuma, his understudy, an Aussie mix.
Director Kasdan has said that the story grew from a personal experience when he and his wife, Meg, lost their dog and launched a search. Sometimes it is best to leave personal experiences confined to family history. A Sony Pictures Classics release.