Sony Pictures Classics | Release Date: April 20, 2012
Mixed or average reviews based on 9 Ratings
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ShiiraJun 11, 2012
This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. At the end of Darling Companion, Beth is reunited with her dog, which would be a whole lot more touching had she not terminated her search for the mutt. For Beth, it's just gravy, getting Freeway back, since the film's title, as it turns out, alludes not to the dog she rescued alongside a busy interstate, but her husband, Joseph, who was more provider than partner, before the occasion of the animal's disappearance forces the busy professional to spend time with his neglected wife. While searching, the two can finally talk, hashing things out between the interruptions, which range from big horn sheep to the dislocated shoulder that Beth resets for her egotistical husband. Now that Beth has his attention again, Freeway is less in demand as a surrogate for the doctor's wife to pour her extraneous love on, evidenced by her boarding of the twin-engine plane after calling the search party off, leaving behind the dog to fend for himself in the Rockies. Earlier, when Joseph tells Beth that she has "no sense of proportion," her indignant wife replies, "Love is love. It doesn't matter if it's a dog," but apparently there is a difference, reminding the audience of her affluent lifestyle. Beth's capacity to love a mongrel, and not some purebred dog with a pedigree gave her depth, but when she abandons Freeway, her distinction of being a relatable person, compassionate and open-minded, which separated her from the others is gone, and we realize that this woman has the potential to be a snob, just like her husband, who disapproves of his sister's new beau, a working class stiff named Russell. Losing the dog turns out to be a blessing in disguise. Beth found her husband; she's no longer the lost person we meet at the outset. "Would you be leaving if I was missing?" asked the old Beth. This new Beth, loved again, by love that matters, now shares her husband's sense of proportion. She's a hypocrite, and this filmmaker, earlier in his career, would have called her out for it. This is not, however, Grand Canyon, the 1991 film in which a movie producer, Davis, vows not to make any more violent films after an attempt is made on his life. Once his gunshot wound heals, however, the L.A. phony goes back on the dogma he temporarily advocated. A century later, the filmmaker seems more leftist, saving Beth from Davis' fate as a satirical target, when by dumb luck, she spots Freeway from her airplane seat, and becomes an accidental hero by concocting a fake emergency to fool the pilots into landing. Despite a reunion straight out of Lassie Come Home, a violent animated sequence, in which Beth sees her domesticated pet engaged in the dog eat dog world of the wilderness, exposes a gap that the film doesn't quite cover up. Has Freeway turned feral? Unaware to the film, this nightmare could be a vision that Carmen, a self-described clairvoyant, passes along to Beth, suggesting in Freeway a temperament less on par with a collie than a bull terrier, the breed featured in Baxter, a 1989 French film, whose anthropomorphism is unusual for its anti-Disney idiosyncrasy of having an animal depict the baser side of man. Baxter kills, with premeditated cunning, to escape detection, first, pushing his owner down the stairs, a rebuke to the old lady's attempts to domesticate him. Later, he tries to stage an accident with a young couple's child. During the aforementioned animated sequence, Freeway is the hunted, but after a days-long stint in the woods, perhaps, he's the hunter, as well, a changed dog, belying the lack of physical wear-and-tear and noticeable trauma when Beth finds him. But things have changed since Freeway last saw her. How will the mutt react when he realizes that the doctor is Beth's real darling companion? Like Baxter, he's been replaced. In this case, by a big baby. The bull terrier's last owner, a Hitler-obsessed kid, comes to see the dog as a Jew, and kills him. Similarly, Beth, married to an alpha male, may see mongrels as inferior to pure breeds, now that she's regained her husband's respect. A commonality to both films, posits the owner, and not just the dog, as lost. Only Beth, however, is found. The rich always win. The film plays like the 1% version of Wendy and Lucy. Long before Lucy disappears from her post outside the grocery store, it's Wendy who gets lost, exemplified by a long-take in the opening minutes, where the young woman plays with her dog as they make their way through the woods. The Oregon wilderness seems incongruent to the Indiana plates on her car. "I'm lost," reads her flier for Lucy, which is applicable to her situation, as well. Like the boy in Baxter, Wendy doesn't resemble her dog, she has become her, a stray. Wendy needs food and water, too. In the end, Lucy is found, but Wendy stays lost, leaving her darling companion behind, in a yard, owned by a kindly old man. Conversely, Beth has everything. Getting her dog back is just showing off. Expand
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