In our youth-driven movie culture it’s refreshing to find an American film made by, and for, mature audiences. Being of a certain age myself, I was charmed by this lovely, leisurely-paced story that deals with issues young viewers might not relate to: taking a longtime spouse for granted, losing sight of the love that goes unspoken, and making snap judgments about people who don’t fit your idea of the norm.
On the surface, the film deals with a successful, self-absorbed surgeon (Kevin Kline) whose wife (Diane Keaton) rescues a dog from the side of the road. A year later, the wedding of their daughter at their vacation home in the mountains of Colorado brings other family members together: his sister (Dianne Wiest), her nephew, who’s also Kline’s medical colleague (Mark Duplass), and her awkwardly garrulous fiancé (Richard Jenkins). Add to the mix a sexy but somewhat mysterious caretaker (Ayelet Zurer) who brings her psychic powers to the fore when the rescue dog runs away and can’t be found. The cast also includes Elisabeth Moss, as Kline and Keaton’s daughter, and Sam Shepard, as the local sheriff.
The simple story turns out to be a framework for the themes that director Lawrence Kasdan and his wife Meg (who collaborated on the script) want to explore, including love, the nature of relationships both old and new, the importance of acceptance, and the role that serendipity plays in our lives. It may not be edgy, or hugely profound, but I found the movie disarming and quite likable. The cast couldn’t be better, and the settings (Utah, substituting for Colorado, although there are some readily identifiable shots taken in Telluride) are beautiful.
The Kasdans not only wrote Darling Companion but persuaded Kevin Kline, whose history with the director dates back to The Big Chill in 1983, and the rest of their sterling cast to work for scale (the minimum allowed) so their modestly-budgeted movie could get made. My fondest wish is that this film finds its intended audience and justifies the faith so many people put into it.