Movie and Film Reviews (MFR) Comedy,Drama The Darjeeling Limited

The Darjeeling Limited

Director – Wes Anderson

Writer – Wes Anderson

Starring – Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, Jason Schwartzman, Anjelica Huston


I have just recently introduced myself to the films of writer/director Wes Anderson in loo of seeing his latest The Darjeeling Limited. So far he has been hit and miss with me, hitting with Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums and missing with Bottle Rocket and The Life Aquatic. But I am happy to say that Darjeeling is officially the first film of Anderson’s body of work I can say I loved.

Three American brothers, Francis (Wilson), Peter (Brody) and Jack (Schwartzman), embark upon a spiritual journey across India on a train called The Darjeeling Limited. After their journey veers off course by unforeseen events (such as pain killers, a poisonous snake and pepper spray) they find themselves stranded in the middle of the desert with their suitcases. As a result a new journey is planned and put into motion.

The words “quirky” and “offbeat” are most likely understatements when it comes to the films of Wes Anderson. They are so dripping with those aforementioned things that it’s almost impossible not to admire them. But whether or not you like them will be determined by the type of movie fan you are. Like with the rest of Anderson’s work you will either like/love this film or you just won’t get it. Luckily for this film I am in the former category, and with this film in particular I just loved.

I sense this film won’t garner the interests, of which it thoroughly deserves, from general audiences which in turn won’t make it much money despite it being one of Anderson’s most laugh-out-loud funny and accessible films. In saying that it is a tough film for audiences to grasp onto, for a number of reasons including a lacking storyline and the in-depth setting of Indian culture. Most of the film takes place on a train, in one particular compartment and there is a lot of talking (even for a Wes Anderson film) which as a result most general movie goers just won’t be able to get into the flow of it. Fortunately, like I have already said, I did and had an extremely enjoyable and fun time with it. And for those of you who appreciate Anderson’s humour – his quirky, offbeat (there goes those words again) characters, meticulous attention to detail and selective soundtrack – will also find much to enjoy in The Darjeeling Limited.

The film reunites long-time Anderson collaborator (including writing and starring) Owen Wilson, playing the brother of the three who sets the Indian journey into motion. Throughout the film he is wearing bandages on his face and head as a result of a recent motorcycle accident, something spookily reminiscent of a real-life injury. Then we have Rushmore star Jason Schwartzman in a role that furthers the effort he put forth in said film, giving a fittingly melodic but upbeat performance. And finally we have Anderson newcomer Adrien Brody as Peter, in a role that seemed more suited to someone who reccurs in Anderson’s previous films. This was my first thought when I read that he was going to be playing the part and when I saw him in the trailer but he more than fits into this quirky little world created by the auteur director.

What is, perhaps, one of the most enjoyable things about Darjeeling is the setting of India. The way it is shot, the attention to detail and the selective locations, and just the showcasing of a culture that most audiences won’t be familiar with makes for an eye-catching, attention holding visual experience along with the quirky audible one. There are several tracking and long distance shots of the country that I for one could have just watched for ages. If you can’t find enjoyment in Anderson’s humour then you can at least get something out of the beautiful visuals that this film has to offer.

What made The Darjeeling Limited work so well for me was the chemistry between Wilson, Brody and Schwartzman and how well they work together. It is hard to imagine on the surface these three being actual brothers but Anderson’s script gives believability to effectively remedy that by adding those little similarities (and respective differences) and mannerisms that every brother-to-brother-(to-brother) relationship has. It only takes a few minutes to get into the frame of mind that they are brothers instead of just people pretending to be. What adds to the enjoyment of just witnessing the chemistry between the three of them is the things left out about their (back) stories. Where did these brothers come from? What was their repeatedly mentioned father like? Why do they constantly want to lie to each other? This may sound irritating that major things are left out but it leaves the viewer to work things out for themselves and come to their own conclusions about why a certain character acts a certain way or does a certain thing. Perhaps some of you will still find the open ended approach that the film has irritating but personally I was glad it was done in such a fashion.

I can’t review this film without giving a mention to the short film played beforehand. Hotel Chevalier shows Schwartzman’s character, Jack, from the main film in a hotel room in France. He gets a phone call from his girlfriend (played by Natalie Portman) and as she makes her way to the room he tidies himself and the place up in waiting for her to arrive. It isn’t something that plays an integral part in the enjoyment or understanding of Darjeeling but it is still more than worth checking out on the web, if it isn’t playing in front of the main film that is.

This is probably a film that will only be loved by fans of Wes Anderson or at least someone who found a couple of his films enjoyable (such as myself). For everyone else they will no doubt be tempted to get off at the first stop but I strongly encourage you to stay on-board for the whole journey.

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