Once upon a time a long, long time ago, “Baby Boomers” like me (American kids born between 1945 & 1965) were young. We were on the cusp of great possibilities–one of the largest, healthiest, most prosperous generations in the history of mankind. And then the years flashed by & now… well, we’re not so young anymore & our time in center stage is over.
In his new film, Darling Companion, Lawrence Kasdan addresses this dislocation explicitly, aided this time by his wife, Meg, who co-wrote the screenplay.
This is Kasdan’s 11th time in the director’s chair & in that time he’s had several hits, some misses, four Oscar nominations, & many awards (in director, producer &/or writer roles). One of his awards was a Razzie in 1994 (shared with Kevin Costner & Jim Wilson)–“Worst Picture” & “Worst Remake or Sequel” for Wyatt Earp (in which he served in all three primary roles). But RB & I both really liked Wyatt Earp, which we actually consider the best cinematic version of the oft-filmed Earp saga (& yes, we have see them all). So there ya go.
Kasdan’s biggest hit was The Bill Chill, released in 1983, when the oldest Boomers were fast approaching their 40s. A once tight-knit group of friends comes together to mourn one of their own, & over a long weekend filled with endless morphing conversations, they each inch forward into full adulthood.
And now, in Darling Companion, the names have changed but the basic character types have remained the same. Kevin Kline, in particular, seems to be the same person he was then, but now he’s in his 60s. In Darling Companion, Kline is called “Joseph.” He’s a prosperous surgeon accustomed to having his own way. His wife is “Beth” (played this time by Diane Keaton). Beth & Joseph love each other & to all appearances their marriage is very succesful, but in reality they’ve long lived separate lives & the gulf is growing ever-wider now that their two daughters have moved off & left them empty-nesters.
Then one day Beth finds an abandoned dog… Loving him, losing him, searching for him, & mourning his loss, these plot points provide the frame for a narrative arc (played out with able assisstance from a large assortment of family & friends well-depicted by actors Mark Duplass, Richard Jenkins, Elisabeth Moss, Sam Shepard, Dianne Wiest & Ayelet Zurer) .
But really, folks, although the dogs who play the fictitious “Freeway” are perfectly fine canine actors (individually & collectively), Darling Companion is not about dogs. It’s about the ups & downs of walking hand-in-hand with one mate for the better part of a lifetime, realizing that you’re both growing older, & facing the fact that one day one of you–most likely a woman–will likely have to walk on alone.
Darling Companion has my highest endorsement: I laughed; I cried, I had a great time 🙂
All Photo Credits: Wilson Webb/Sony Pictures Classics