Film & TV

"Darling Companion" Searches for a Lost Dog in a Forest Full of Sap

"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 film. 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. The Winters form a search party with wedding guests who stayed behind, and in their healing treks through the woods, feelings are processed, snobbery leveled, and happiness restored.

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Melissa Anderson is the senior film critic at the Village Voice, for which she first began writing in 2000. Her work also appears in the publications of the Voice’s film partner, Voice Media Group: LA Weekly, Denver Westword, Phoenix New Times, Miami New Times, Broward-Palm Beach New Times, Houston Press and Dallas Observer.