The Darjeeling Limited (2007)

DVD Cover (Fox Searchlight)
Genres: Adventure Comedy, Comedy, Road Movie
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Wes Anderson Wes Anderson
Owen Wilson Owen Wilson
Adrien Brody Adrien Brody
Jason Schwartzman Jason Schwartzman
Amara Karan Amara Karan
Wallace Wolodarsky Wallace Wolodarsky

7.1 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by bluemeanie
Added: October 29, 2007
Wes Anderson is my favorite director alive today. He has been my favorite director since the day I first saw "Rushmore" in theatres and continues to prove my point with each and every film he subsequently delivers. "The Darjeeling Limited" is his latest, playing alongside his companion piece to the film, the short "Hotel Chevalier". The film comes from a very familiar group of cast and crew who all keep the same momentum that has made Anderson's previous four films so new and exciting. Anderson has been receiving criticism lately, especially since "The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou", that his films have become a parody of themselves. That's ludicrous. That's just Wes Anderson's style. If he made a different kind of film, it wouldn't be a Wes Anderson picture in the purest sense of the word. Anderson has perfected his style and there is no other director out there who can duplicate it exactly. "The Darjeeling Limited" is in the exact same style as "The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou" and his other films, but has been receiving largely better reviews, though I don't see the logic behind that considering these same critics picked apart his previous film for the same reasons they are praising this one. "The Darjeeling Limited" is Anderson's first film since 2004 and it's just as remarkable and memorable as all of his other pictures.

The experience opens with "Hotel Chevalier", a short film that Anderson wrote and directed as a companion piece to "The Darjeeling Limited". It focuses on one of the brother characters in the film, Jack (Jason Schwartzman), who is living in The Hotel Chevalier. His former girlfriend (Natalie Portman) drops in for a visit and the rest is really more about their awkward and strained relationship. We don't get a whole lot of exposition on it. This is followed by the feature film itself, "The Darjeeling Limited", which focuses on three brothers - Francis (Owen Wilson), Peter (Adrien Brody) and Jack - as they embark on a 'spiritual journey'. Francis has organized the trip after a near fatal 'accident' and wants the brothers to re-connect. They haven't spoken in over a year, since the death of their father. Francis is really trying to arrange a meeting with their mother (Anjelica Huston), who has joined a convent in India, which sparked the journey. The Darjeeling Limited is the name of the train on which they travel through India, making various pit stops, where they loosely perform sacred rituals. When they are booted from the train, they continue on foot and are met with a frightening and tragic encounter that changes them forever. "The Darjeeling Limited" is very much about the journey that these brothers experience, bringing them closer together and giving them a true understanding of why they truly are so different.

The film is gorgeous. Most of the film is shot on a train and the camera work is probably the best Wes Anderson and director of photography Robert Yeoman have ever delivered. Some of the shots are so exquisite and so perfect, you just want to bottle them and take them home. The train is so delicately filmed - it feels almost as if it might break. The scenes in the small Indian villages are equally awe inspiring, especially the tragic sequence I referenced earlier. Anderson knows how to keep you laughing, but them slam you with something unexpected and disastrous. He films it so well that it makes it so much more visceral and so much more powerful. What separates this film from his others, I think, is that it is more drama that comedy. With his other films, the comedy was so overwhelming that the dramatic sequence sometimes lost a little impact. This film is more of a family drama infused with comedy. These are really just three sad men who have been trying to find meaning in their lives, but just can't seem to make heads or tails out of it. My favorite scene in the entire film comes towards the end when we see all the various characters in the train, from room to room, as the camera passes them by. Anderson so brilliantly combines his music with his camera work that you really cannot separate one from the other. And, as with all his other films, the soundtrack is flawless. Not a misplaced song, and it leaves you wanting the whole album.

As for the performances, part of what makes Wes Anderson so unique is his ability to extract just what he needs out of his actors. Owen Wilson and Jason Schwartzman have been there before. Owen Wilson is especially strong in a role that requires the fullest extent of his comic timing and dry sense of humor. Schwartzman, once again, plays the straightest laced of the men, who still has a wild side and a hunger for young women. Adrien Brody fits in quite nicely with the flow of the film, and it was nice to see him show his Oscar for "The Pianist" was not a mistake. He has made a few bad choices, but this film sets him back on the right track. In smaller roles, Anjelica Huston is pitch perfect as Patricia, their mother; and Bill Murray is fun as The Businessman, whom we see at the very beginning and very end of the film. Wes Anderson regulars Waris Ahluwalia and Kumar Pallana pop up here and there, as they do in all of his films. And, director Barbet Schroeder has a nice little scene that comes out of nowhere. In short, the performances are stereotypical Anderson perfection - subtle and nuanced and just the right balance between sad and hysterical. They all fit their roles so well, you can never imagine the thought of anyone else playing them.

Is this Wes Anderson's best film? Honestly - I have a different favorite Wes Anderson film every day of the week it seems. Some days it's "Rushmore"; others it's "Tenenbaums". Tomorrow might be "The Life Aquatic" - tonight it might be "Darjeeling". It just depends. What I can say is that this film features Anderson's tightest script yet and a storyline that doesn't come close to straying. I can also say that it is, without a doubt, one of the best films of the year. Of course I am going to say that though - he's my favorite director in the world. If you are not a Wes Anderson fan, you need serious medical assistance - but it also means you probably won't like this film. True Wes Anderson fans will love it. Why? Because it's near perfect. It captures the essence of his films, and gives us some new things that we don't expect. "The Darjeeling Limited" is currently in semi-wide release, but I don't know that it will spread much further. If you get a chance to see it, you will get to see it play alongside "Hotel Chevalier". Watching the short before you watch the feature really gives you some keen insight into the characters and to some of the references. I loved this film. A Wes Anderson picture is an event for me. Tonight I experienced the latest one.

grain of sand #1: grain of sand - added 10/29/2007, 08:00 PM
bottlerocket was my first experience with this director, and he hasn't let me down yet
Tristan #2: Tristan - added 11/24/2008, 10:54 PM
I think the only reason I didn't enjoy it as much as his other films was because I was expecting exactly that - his other films. He strayed away from the comedy (sort of) with this one, and made a very touching movie. I think I will appreciate it more on the second watch, knowing what kind of film to expect.

Lucid Dreams #3: Lucid Dreams - added 08/07/2010, 02:10 AM
This was almost perfect for me, however, I just want to punch Owen Wilson in the face. 9/10
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