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Darling Companion Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
  • Audio Codec: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit), Portuguese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/16-bit), Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Subtitles: English
  • Subtitles Color: White
  • Region: A (Region-Locked)
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Run Time: 104 Mins.
  • Discs: 1 (1 x Blu-ray)
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • Blu-ray Release Date: August 28, 2012
  • List Price: $35.99

Overall
[Rating:4.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:3.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(All TheaterByte screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG at 100% quality setting and are meant as a general representation of the content. They do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Film

[Rating:3.5/5]

With Darling Companion, Lawrence Kasdan continues the themes followed in his collaborations with actor Kevin Kline (No Strings Attached; De-Lovely) that gave the film world one of the defining baby boomer classics, The Big Chill, and also Grand Canyon. The boomers in this film are older now, obviously, and their problems more complex than simply the contemplation of getting old. They are now, in fact, elderly.

The story follows the aging married couple Beth (Diane Keaton; Morning Glory; Manhattan; Annie Hall) and Joseph (Kevin Kline) whose relationship has grown distant owing to Joseph’s single-minded focus on his surgical practice. When Beth and her daughter Grace (Elisabeth Moss; TV’s Mad Men) drive home from the airport and rescue an injured dog alongside the freeway, which they aptly name “Freeway,” the dog’s presence in the household is enough to stir up the already brewing tensions between Joseph and Beth. A year later, when Grace marries the veterinarian who helped save Freeway and is away on her honeymoon, Joseph manages to lose the pooch on a walk through the woods near the getaway where Grace’s wedding was held. The ensuing search, which includes the help of Joseph’s sister Penny (Dianne Wiest; Rabbit Hole; Footloose) and her new boyfriend Russell (Richard Jenkins), Penny’s son Bryan (Mark Duplass; TV’s The League) and an odd but sexy friend Carmen claiming to be half-gypsy with psychic powers (Ayelet Zurer; Angels & Demons), only amplifies the underlying issues in Joseph and Beth’s marriage. They have grown old and a bit tired of each other. They must not only find and save Freeway, but somehow save their own relationship. Meanwhile, several newer, fresher relationships are springing up around them.

While Darling Companion avoids melodrama at all costs, its screenplay, co-written by Lawrence Kasdan and wife Meg Kasdan, opts for a plainly thought out and acted scenario that only takes as its starting point the issue of the rescued dog. In reality, this could be any slice of life drama, with the mildly comical and unforeseen events that tend to drift into everyday life, especially between people with so much familiarity amongst themselves.

While this mellow, even keeled approach certainly works with such a heavily weighted cast of veterans, it does also tend to rob Darling Companion of any true sense of purpose at times, as the film often meanders, as life is wont to do, but as films are sometimes affected in a bad way by. Still, in the overall sense, Darling Companion is a pleasant if not perfect snapshot at the baby boomer generation further on down the road.

Video Quality

[Rating:5/5]

Darling Companion‘s wonderful color palette, captured in high definition using the Red One MX, is offered up in a fine rendering from Sony with this Blu-ray’s AVC/MPEG-4 1080p encodement. It captures all of the wintry textures and earth tones beautifully, while offering a clean and crisply detailed image with strong contrast and nuanced shadow delineation.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4.5/5]

You wouldn’t expect much from the soundtrack for a film such as this, but the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit) track provided here is also a real winner. It has a strong amount of atmospheric sound effects in the surround channels, clean, full dialogue across the front, and, when one of the pivotal scene’s thunderstorm gets rollicking, it really opens up with discrete “booms” throughout the room and hefty low frequencies.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:3/5]

None of the extras here is anything groundbreaking, for sure. Much of it is typically ego-stroking, promotionaly oriented “behind the scenes” fluff, but at least they offer up an audio commentary with the filmmakers and actor Kevin Kline.

The supplements:

  • Commentary with Lawrence Kasdan, Meg Kasdan, and Kevin Kline
  • Darling Companion: Behind the Scenes (1.78:1; 1080i/60; 00:04:56)
  • Behind the Scenes: Lawrence Kasdan (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:05:02) – A look at the director at work with interviews from the cast members.
  • Finding the Freeway: Dog People (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:03:34) – A look at Casey, the real “Freeway.”
  • On the Red Carpet: New York Premiere (1.78:1; 1080i/60; 00:02:42)
  • Theatrical Trailer (2.35:1; 1080p/24; Dolby Digital 5.1)

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4.5/5]

Not laugh out loud funny and not melodramatic, but charming and meaningful in its own way, Darling Companion is a pleasant way to spend one’s afternoon particularly with this well done Blu-ray from Sony.

Additional Screen Captures

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Purchase Darling Companion on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:4.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:3.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3/5]

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