‘Companion’ an intimate indie

Any resemblance between the fictional upper-class folks in Darling Companion who lose a dog and stop at nothing to track him down and the couple whowrote the movie is purely intentional.

“We had the experience of losing our dog a few years ago,” Meg Kasdan said.

“Mac, a mutt from a shelter in Los Angeles,” added her husband, director Lawrence Kasdan. “Stillhave him.”

“A very dramatic experience for us,” said Meg, “because he got lost in the mountains ofColorado.”

“We went back for several expeditions, enlisting friends for the search,” Lawrence said. “We hadgiven up.”

Three weeks later, someone found Mac and called the couple.

“After that happened,” Meg said, “we would tell the story to our friends and be shocked at howinterested in this story they were.”

Thus was Darling Companion born.

Because Lawrence Kasdan is the famed writer-director of baby-boomer-angst movies ranging from the Big Chill to Grand Canyon, such a project seemed like a good way to show boomers in their 60s that hewasn’t thinking in terms of those films.

Yet, as the movie evolved, he said, “That started to happen.”

Darling Companion might be about a wife (Diane Keaton) who transfers her affections from aneglectful, workaholic husband (Kevin Kline) to a dog. But it also touches the simple shock of theyouth-obsessed turning old.

“The idea of saying something about ageism — in life, work and in Hollywood — came naturally,”he said. “It’s in play, even if we weren’t setting out to do something about 60-year-olds being putout to pasture.

“There certainly aren’t a lot of movies about that generation — our generation — now.”

At 63, Kasdan himself feels a little “put out to pasture.” his last movie was a Stephen Kingadaptation, Dreamcatcher, in 2003. his glory days wound down in the 1990s.

Darling Companion encompasses plenty of lines about the insult that is to a person ofaccomplishment.

“When Sam Shepard (the sheriff) asks Kevin, the surgeon, ‘What time they start pushin’ you outtathat?’ — he’s talking about people who make movies, too,” Lawrence Kasdan said. “I am absolutelyexperiencing that firsthand.

“Our friends are lawyers and doctors, business people — and we all feel we’re being pushed out.It’s the natural cycle of things — people coming up, impatient for people who are older to get outof the way.”

Yet the Kasdans, Meg noted, remain “pretty vital — hiking the mountains, going to the movies.You realize, as you look at the movie ads on Friday night, there’s nothing for people over 50 tosee.”

Actors about the age of Keaton and Kline (Dianne Wiest and Richard Jenkins also are in the film)are used so sparingly, Lawrence said, “because parts are not written for them by Hollywood, becauseHollywood doesn’t see the need to reach that audience.”

Making the film required Lawrence Kasdan — who made a nice living writing early Star Wars movies, Raiders of the Lost Ark and the Bodyguard — to learn to work inexpensively.

He had help from mark Duplass — of indie film’s Duplass Brothers (Jeff, Who Lives at Home and Cyrus) — who was cast as the son of one of the more-senior characters.

“Larry is one of the most ruthlessly efficient writers I have ever known,” Duplass said. “Thiswas a much smaller-budgeted movie than he’d ever worked on. and every now and then, he’d look overat me and go: ‘You’re the guy who can make a movie for $50,000. How do we do this?’

Kasdan’s desire “to make an intimate, personal film for little or no money” is exciting toDuplass.

Not that Kasdan hopes to make a habit of it.

He still has big studio-picture plans, collaborating with best-selling thriller writer HarlanCoben on a film based on Stay Close — which he doesn’t expect to have to do on the cheap.

“But it’s nice to know, after making Darling Companion, that I could,” he said. “Nice to keep learning over 60.”

‘Companion’ an intimate indie

Related Websites

    Be Sociable, Share!