Release Date: May 18, 2012
Running Time: 103 minutes
The lost dog that causes so much anxiety for its distraught owner in director Lawrence Kasdan’s Darling Companion is more than this woman’s best friend. To borrow from Anatole France, the dog serves to awakened parts of the soul belonging to Diane Keaton and, by extension, several of her close family members. Life changes the moment Keaton rescues the abandoned Freeway and takes him home. Freeway is then directly responsible for Keaton’s eldest daughter (Mad Men’s Elizabeth Moss) meeting her eventual husband (Jay Ali). Trouble strikes when Keaton’s workaholic and neglectful husband, a self-involved doctor who’s played by Kevin Kline, loses Freeway in the wild. She recruits everyone but the Dog Whisperer to find the missing mutt. Darling Companion marks Kasdan’s sixth collaboration with Kline, and like The Big Chill and Grand Canyon, they seize every possible opportunity to explore the angst that seemingly afflicted baby boomers from birth. The comparisons to The Big Chill become even more glaringly obvious when Darling Companion forces its six protagonists—including Kline’s flighty sister (Diane Wiest) and her gabby boyfriend (Richard Jenkins)—to remain under one roof during less-than-ideal circumstances. If The Big Chill examined the hesitancy with which baby boomers approached parenthood and their professional obligations, Darling Companion sheds light on the loneliness and the desire to feel needed long after the kids have flown the nest and are ready for retirement. Keaton finds that sense of purpose when she adopts Freeway. Without him, it’s just Keaton and Kline. Their marriage isn’t on the rocks, but they are going through the motions. The search for Freeway serves as an opportunity to rekindle their marriage as well as come to confront the truth that they can’t remain forever young. For Jenkins, it affords him a chance to bond with Wiest’s disapproving son (Mark Duplass). Unfortunately, Kasdan fails to use the uneasy relationship between Jenkins and Duplass to dissect their obvious generational differences. Worse, Kasdan forces Duplass into a romance Keaton and Kline’s housekeeper (Angels & Demons’ Ayelet Zurer), who just so happens to be a hot-blooded gypsy with an unusual gift. Zurer’s apparent psychic connection to dogs creates both hope and frustration for Keaton. Zurer’s presence, though, means that Darling Companion often gets itself caught up in all sorts of New Agey nonsense that distracts from and trivializes the issues that Kasdan thoughtfully agonizes over. It also results in a groan-inducing ending that cheapens the emotional breakthroughs that’s experienced inDarling Companion. Kasdan should know better than to wag the dog.
Aired: May 17, 2012
Web site: http://sonyclassics.com/darlingcompanion/