‘The Darjeeling Limited’: Worth the trip

Thu, 11/01/2007 - 4:38pm
By: Michael Boylan

Writer-director Wes Anderson has his own unique style of both storytelling and filmmaking. Similar to Woody Allen or a Martin Scorcese, all of Anderson’s films tend to have similar looks, feels and sounds. To some, like me, this is a very good thing. I have enjoyed all of Anderson’s films (although “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou” was my least favorite) and feel that he is back at the top of his game with his latest film. “The Darjeeling Limited” combines all of his familiar elements into a nearly perfect blend of comedy and drama.

“The Darjeeling Limited” is about three brothers who haven’t seen each other in the year since their father passed away. Francis (Owen Wilson), the eldest brother, has arranged for a train trip across India for his siblings, Jack (Jason Schwartzman) and Peter (Adrien Brody), to take with him. What looks at first to be a trip of reconciliation and a “spiritual journey” for the brothers, is really a trip to locate their mother at a monastery and attempt to bring her back home.

Though the plot is paper thin, there is a lot going on here between the characters and “The Darjeeling Limited” is as dense as a novel. The characters are fully realized. Not only has a lot gone on in the year since their father’s death, but the viewer gets the idea that a lot has gone on between the siblings and their parents throughout their entire lives. This is a film meant to be talked about afterwards and some absolutely fantastic moments will stay with you for days afterwards.

Wilson and Schwartzman have both appeared in Anderson films before, as has Anjelica Huston, who appears as the mother of the main characters, and Bill Murray, who has an interesting cameo, but it is Brody who gives the finest performance and hopefully will appear in future Anderson endeavors. As the middle brother, Peter, and also the most in need of something (a spiritual jump-start? a kick in the pants? a hug?), Brody deftly maneuvers between the brother who lords over him and the brother he has protected in the past.

Though all of this relationship talk may make the film seem really heavy, “The Darjeeling Limited” pulses with humor and vibrancy. There are a lot of laughs and though the characters could be considered dysfunctional, they become easy to root for. The film is also beautiful, from Anderson’s trademark tight sets to the expansive beauty of an India rarely seen. Once again, Anderson also has assembled the perfect soundtrack to accompany his film and you will undoubtedly seek out some of these rarities and forgotten tunes afterwards.

If this film is still playing locally this weekend (I don’t hold out much hope), check it out before it goes and if it doesn’t, it is worth finding it in Atlanta and seeing this soon. It definitely will have a place on my top 10 list this year.


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