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"Darling Companion": At Least the Dog Is Charming 

Wednesday, May 9 2012
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"Animals are such agreeable friends—they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms," George Eliot once wrote. That's certainly the appeal of Freeway, a stray mutt rescued by Beth Winter (Diane Keaton), unhappily married to overweening, distant surgeon Joseph (Kevin Kline) in Darling Companion. The handsome pooch is also the only appealing aspect of the latest tale of privileged boomer pulse-taking from Lawrence Kasdan, who co-wrote the script with his wife, Meg (they last collaborated in 1991's Grand Canyon). When, early on, the dog goes missing at the Winters' Colorado vacation home — where they have just hosted the wedding of their younger daughter, Grace (Elisabeth Moss) — his absence cues frequently unendurable scenes of recriminations. Beth blames the hound's disappearance on her husband, who was distracted by a work phone call while walking Freeway, and he accuses her of neurosis and not loving him enough. Added to the marital-woes cacophony is the mumbo jumbo uttered by resort caretaker Carmen (Ayelet Zurer), a Roma psychic who often begins each sentence with, "My people have a saying ..." The Winters form a search party with wedding guests who stayed behind, including Joseph's sister (Dianne Wiest), her boyfriend (Richard Jenkins), and her son (Mark Duplass). In their healing treks through the woods, feelings are processed, snobbery leveled, and happiness restored.

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Melissa Anderson

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