Tag Archives: Dianne Wiest

Passengers

If you were looking for a review of Passengers (2016) about a dick named Chris Pratt who pulls the grossest act of total bullshit and gets away with it, click here. Otherwise, Passengers (2008):

Captain Raymond Holt, who of course only plays Capt. Holt on Brooklyn 99 (Andre Braugher), calls in a highly educated but personally rutted psychologist, Dr. Claire Summers (Anne Hathaway) to support a small handful of passengers who have just survived a plane crash. She holds group sessions for grief counseling and quickly finds that the 5 passengers disagree on what happened. Some remember a flash or an explosion that the airline aggressively disavows.

Despite several degrees that should tell her otherwise, Claire becomes personally involved, not only in untangling the mystery, but romantically with the most secretive of the passengers, Eric (Patrick Wilson). Eric’s reaction is strange in a different way. He’s almost elated, feels better than ever. But this little group of survivors has all kinds of inconsistencies to it, and Dr. Summers is practically tripping over herself to break all the ethical and professional boundaries that exist for a reason. Of course, when the members of her group begin disappearing one by one, it seems not even professional boundaries would keep them safe.

Passengers feels like someone conceived of a “twist ending” and then reverse-engineered the movie around it. It spends almost no time justifying or earning its end; instead it builds smoke screens around it, protecting an ending that then comes out of the blue because no one was clever enough to drop those juicy little hints that make your mind tingle and a surprise ending feel oh so tantalizing. An unearned ending feels more like a relief than a delight or a shock. It creates frustration instead of alleviating it. Because that’s the thing about thrillers: they’re supposed to build on themselves, creating suspense while leaving behind a subtle trail of clues. The mystery is an itch and it’s a flood of relief when finally everything comes together to scratch it.

Passengers is a bit of a mess in terms of logic and plot. The story is emotionally manipulative. Anne Hathaway is a bland leading lady. Are those things that might bother you? Or are you the kind of person for whom everything about the movie is incidental to the mere watching of it. In which case, Passengers is definitely a movie you can watch on Netflix. It begins, it plays for a while, and it ends. Thankfully.

Darling Companion

Beth is feeling a bit like a neglected wife; her husband Joseph is a workaholic surgeon and her kids are grown. So it’s kind of perfect timing when she finds an injured dog by the side of the road. Nursed back to health, the aptly named ‘Freeway’ becomes her loyal and constant companion. When Freeway’s vet marries Beth’s daughter, the whole family comes together for the happy occasion – until Joseph manages to lose the dog and suddenly the family is down one very important member.

Beth (Diane Keaton) refuses to leave until she’s searched every corner of the back woods where Freeway was last seen. Her sister-in-law (Dianne Wiest) chooses to stay by her side, as does her new beau (Richard Jenkins), and her son (Mark Duplass). Finally feeling the guilt of his inadequacy, Joseph (Kevin Kline) stays back too, and the search party is more like search couples therapy.

It’s co-written and directed by the fabulous Lawrence Kasdan so I wonder how on earth that name paired with this cast could have sailed past me. What was I doing in 2012 that I couldn’t make room for a little Diane Keaton in my life? And the thing is, who better to relate to her character than myself, a woman who would most assuredly go full Billy Madison should any of my dogs ever go missing.

Alas, this is the least successful of Kasdan’s films and it’s not just for the lack of light sabers. I get what he’s trying to do: there’s a fraying marriage, a freshly minted marriage, and new romances for both the young and not so young. It all revolves around this missing dog, but it’s a lot to handle for a film with such a sweet and simple premise and the tone is sometimes a little too “family movie” for my taste or perhaps anyone’s. But dogs have such an uncomplicated relationship with us, in comparison. They like to cuddle and to be fed. They are never not 110% bowled over to see you come, whether you’ve been away 5 minutes or 5 days. Kasdan was inspired to write the script after he adopted a dog himself, and promptly lost him.

This is Kasdan’s first indie film and the cast, featuring three Oscar winners and two more nominees, were so moved by the story they agreed to work for scale. Even if it wasn’t his most successful, Kasdan lists it as his most gratifying, and I suppose in a long and lustrous career, that’s worth something too.