Starring: Adrien Brody, Owen Wilson, Jason Schwartzman, Amara Karan, Wharis Ahluwalia, Bill Murray, Anjelica Huston
Directed by: Wes Anderson
Synopsis: A year after their father’s funeral, three brothers travel across India by train in an attempt to bond with each other.
Wes Anderson’s fifth feature came after his biggest flop, The Life Aquatic. Again, The Darjeeling Limited didn’t get glowing reviews upon release, providing plenty of ammunition for Anderson nay-sayers. The themes were too similar to his previous work, the style was distracting, it had the same old actors in it. All the usual criticisms could be heard. I disagree whole heartedly, whilst admitting that The Darjeeling Limited is perhaps Anderson’s weakest offering.
The film is set in India, and tells the story of three dysfunctional brothers, Frances, Peter and Jack Whitman, who have come to find their mother, after she didn’t turn up to their fathers funeral. They each have their own problems going on, and don’t get a long too well. Frances (Wilson) is bossy and regimented, and appears to have had a bad accident, his face only just visible through a swathe of bandages. Peter (Brody) is angry and aloof and a bit unstable. Jack (Schwartzman) is a dreamer and also a bitter at his ex girlfriend, not that it stops him from hitting on the train attendant.
Their journey takes them to some fantastic places in India but instead of breathing in the spirituality, they act like so many tourists before them, and head straight for the market to buy shoes and belts (and a poisonous snake). It is only after a tragic accident that the brothers sort themselves out and resolve their differences.
The cast are great in their individual roles, from the energetic but hyper Owen Wilson, to the sulky Adrien Brody and the amorous Jason Schwartzman. The film has the usual Wes Anderson quirks and visual ticks that will leave you wanting more or just leave you cold. The scenery on the train is colourful and vibrant, and the scenery around the India countryside equally breathtaking.
The one thing you could level at the film, as is a common complaint with Anderson’s movies, is that it doesn’t really engage emotionally at any point, including the scene involving the funeral. It’s not a point that particularly bothers me but I can see how it would annoy some people.
The film is prefaced by a fantastic short film called Hotel Chevalier, featuring Jason Schwartzman’s Jack and his ex, played by Natalie Portman in true new-wave French style. It’s great and really adds to the main feature. Check it out below.