Our relationship with dogs can say a lot about our relationships with the people around us; it speaks to who we are as people.
Darling Companion tells the story of a rescued dog, Freeway, who has become part of Beth and Joseph’s family and occupies a special part in their hearts. (Beth is played by Diane Keaton, Joseph by Kevin Kline). Freeway goes everywhere with them, including to their vacation house in the Rockies. While out for an off-leash walk in the woods, Freeway gets distracted by a deer and runs off before Joseph notices. Joseph returns home and calmly breaks the news of Freeway’s disappearance to his wife, who immediately becomes distraught and launches an exhaustive search mission, enlisting the help of her family and the small town where they are staying. Although Joseph is aiding in the mission to find Freeway, it is clear that he does not understand his wife’s bond with the dog. His inability to relate to her desperate need to find Freeway mirrors many issues the couple has in their marriage.
The whole town gets involved in the quest to find Freeway- the sheriff, the local radio DJ, and the neighbors. While the search is taking place, the movie deals with different facets of human relationships. Whether two people are connected romantically, through friendship, or simply due to genetics, there is a certain bond that is sought after– a companionship. Darling Companion explores these human-to-human bonds, but also shows that a person’s relationship with a dog is not much different than his relation to other people. Dogs occupy a special role in any dog owner’s life; we depend on our dogs to provide a certain level of emotional fulfillment the same way a spouse or sibling does.
As I was watching the movie, I couldn’t help but think back to a time when I was walking with my rescue dog, Weezy, a pitbull/German shepherd mix. As we were waiting for the light to change on Sixth Avenue, he somehow got loose from his leash and ran into incoming traffic. It wasn’t until I was on the other side of the street, clutching Weezy, that I realized I had just followed him into a sea of speeding cars. The anxiety that I experienced the moment I saw him running away, and the relief I felt when I was reunited with him a mere sixty seconds later, was exactly what the film’s creator, Lawrence Kasdan, captured in the movie. (Kasdan’s previous credits are of the non-doggie variety: He’s best known for writing The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, and The Bodyguard).
Darling Companion was created as a result of Kasdan’s experience with loving, and losing, his own crop of rescue dogs. He and his wife Meg (who co-wrote the film with him) are advocates of pet adoption; the film’s website even has an ‘adopt & rescue’ section to help people find any information they might need to adopt a dog.When asked about the process of choosing a dog to play Freeway, Meg Kasdan stated that they “wanted a mixed breed to play Freeway. We’re prejudiced, of course, but we think mutts are the best dogs.” The Kasdans had the idea for the script after losing their own beloved rescue dog, Mac, while on a trip in the Rockies. A big difference between their real experience and the one in the movie: The search for Freeway took days; the search for Mac took weeks. Spoiler alert: in the end both dogs make it home safe and sound.
The movie is being released in select theaters in NYC and LA this Friday.Photos via SonyClassics.com