Aimless but pleasant ramble

DARLING COMPANION – With Mark Duplass, Richard Jenkins, Diane Keaton, Kevin Kline, Elisabeth Moss, Sam Shepard, Dianne Wiest and Ayelet Zurer. Directed by Lawrence Kasdan.

Darling Companion is a new comedy-drama from screenwriter and director Lawrence Kasdan. Diane Keaton and Kevin Kline play Mary and Joseph Winter, a couple whose marriage is under strain due to Joseph’s dedication to his work as a spinal surgeon. Diane’s adoption of a stray dog, which she names Freeway, sets in motion a chain of events that soon sees their daughter Grace (Elizabeth Moss) engaged to Freeway’s veterinarian. Grace is soon married near the family’s holiday home in the Rocky Mountains. Their happiness is short lived when Freeway goes missing shortly after the wedding while out on a walk in the mountains with Joseph, causing Diane to hold her husband responsible for her beloved dog’s disappearance.

The couple involves several friends and acquaintances in the search, including the enigmatic Carmen (Ayelet Zurer). Carmen, who is descended from a line of gypsies, claims to have psychic powers, which she attempts to use in the effort to find and rescue Freeway. The search for their beloved pet will test the Winters’ already tense relationship and cause unexpected change in the lives of everyone involved in the search.

Darling Companion does not live up to the strength of Kasdan’s acclaimed Grand Canyon, but as long as the viewer is willing to put aside high expectations the film provides and enjoyable diversion, although it feels overlong and drawn out for a film with such a thin plot.

Quirky additions like a psychic gypsy and a deranged woodsman seem like overly obvious ploys to draw out the running time and give the film some much needed intrigue, which runs the risk of exasperating its audience.

Darling Companion needs some patience to sit through and audiences should not expect great rewards or special insight for going on this journey with its characters. Just relax and enjoy its gentle comedy and quirky laughs.

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