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With Jim Sabatini

Darling Companion

Darling Companion
Kevin Kline, Diane Deaton, Elisabeth Moss, Dianne Wiest and Richard Jenkins

Rated: PG-13  
Reviewed by: Jim  
Release date: April 20, 2012 Released by: Sony Pictures Classics

Lawrence Kasdan has made a couple of rich, rewarding films with Oscar-winning actor Kevin Kline, including Grand Canyon and The Big Chill, but his new film is rarely an insightful (read: numbing) tale about relationships.
Darling Companion also features Diane Keaton (Because I Said So), Elisabeth Moss, Dianne Wiest and Richard Jenkins (The Visitor) and is set in the Colorado Rockies though strikingly lensed with the Red One camera in Utah.
What has a dislocating effect for the viewer is how Kasdan and wife Meg (who helps him out on the screenplay) metaphorically maneuver between rescue dog mentality and marriage. The happenstance is at play is evident when communication breaks down with archetypal roles, including Kline's vainglorious respected spine doctor and Keaton's periodically tempestuous wife, Beth.
So, the sputtering, episodic tale will relocate to Telluride after Beth's good-natured way with an abandoned collie mix named Freeway leads to her daughter Grace (Moss of TV's Mad Men) falling instantly for the veterinarian (Jay Ali) who treats him. But, alas, after a lovely outdoor ceremony as friends and family settle in at Joseph's vacation cabin residence, Freeway suddenly goes missing.
This allows for Wiest's Penny (Joesph's sister), her doctor son Bryan (Mark Duplass), her new boyfriend Russell (Jenkins) to spend more time together as the search is on for Freeway. Joseph will be on the mend with a shoulder ailment after a fall with the help of his wife who'll have an animated (amusing and disconcerting at the same time) vision of Freeway's assailment by wolves.
Besides what Beth can muster up through her occasional zingy interludes and an enticing travelogue element,"Darling Companion seems emotionally distant and self-absorbed while aiming through a certain naturalism (an influence of mumble core filmmaking) to restore union by an unlikely external force. The stagnant storyline and ensemble acting (like Joseph) takes a back seat to a shaggy dog story where Freeway, of course, turns out to be the lone sympathetic figure; less painful than a too-often shrill Keaton and Ayelet Zurer's cabin caretaker in Carmen with alleged psychic aplomb.

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