IN THE DIRECTOR’S CHAIR WITH WES ANDERSON REVIEW: “The Darjeeling Limited” stars Owen Wilson (Zoolander, The Big Year), Adrien Brody (The Pianist, King Kong ), Jason Schwartzman (Big Eyes, Funny People), Amara Karan (A Fantastic Fear of Everything, Lucky Man [TV series]), Wallace Wolodarsky (Seeing Other People, Fantastic Mr. Fox), Waris Ahluwalia (Inside Man, Beeba Boys), Irrfan Khan (Life of Pi, Jurassic World), Barbet Schroeder (Mars Attacks!, Rouge), Camilla Rutherford (Phantom Thread, Gosford Park), Angelica Huston (Ever After: A Cinderella Story, John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum), Bill Murray (Lost in Translation, Aloha), Kumar Pallana (The Terminal, Campus Radio), and Natalie Portman (Garden State, Star Wars: Episode III – The Phantom Menace). It is directed by Wes Anderson (Bottle Rocket, The Grand Budapest Hotel), who wrote it with Roman Coppola (Mozart in the Jungle [TV series], Isle of Dogs) and Jason Schwartzman. Three estranged brothers embark on a spiritual journey in search of meaning, purpose, and ultimately, their aloof mother.
We reach our final destination on this Director’s Chair marathon with Wes Anderson’s “The Darjeeling Limited.” Aside from his very first picture, “Bottle Rocket,” this is the one I have heard least about. It’s not widely mentioned, nor is it really touched on when I have seen breakdowns of his career/work. Why is that? I don’t know. Probably because it doesn’t have the staying power his other releases do. “The Darjeeling Limited” is a movie structured around moments, given life simply by the stark personalities of our leading characters: three brothers, Francis (Wilson), Peter (Brody), and Jack (Schwartzman). Since their father’s funeral, they have grown apart, only reuniting a year later when Francis takes them on a spiritual journey, fit with a slew of itineraries that only get thrown to the wayside as their adventure progresses. I thoroughly enjoyed the dynamic of these characters and the small personality differences that make them stand out. They made me laugh and made me feel when the going got tough, and in true Anderson fashion, this film holds a handful of somber, quiet moments that leave you wading in emotion. No, it isn’t as compelling as Anderson’s former (or latter) projects, but nevertheless he delivers on an entertaining, sometimes powerful ride. Almost the whole narrative takes place on a train, which the crew constructed from scratch to fit the visual style Anderson was going for. It’s beautiful, and the confined space only adds to the tension of these brothers trying to reconnect and deal with one another. The actors are choice fits, with Wilson proving yet again how talented he is, Schwartzman returning in great fashion, and newcomer Adrien Brody almost stealing the show. Clearly, this is a film about brothers, and the filmmakers did marvelously in not only crafting their personalities, but finding the actors to fit them. There was hardly a dull moment, as each scene was a piece of track leading us down an unsuspecting trail. India is on full display, with many on-set locations that made for wonderful visuals and oozed with culture. The surface-level motive of the brothers was to find something spiritually, and we are presented different avenues of that with Hindu temples and a Christian monastery. Granted, this was not fully the push of the story, as to me the spiritual aspect wasn’t really carved out as much as the brother dynamic of them settling their beef with one another. I did find their exploration fascinating, and felt connected in some cases such as when they visited the monastery towards the end and all the children were singing a hymn. In the end, the tale is about these three people settling their differences, and growing more connected to each other out of the journey (as they should being brothers). I resonated with this story quite a bit, mainly because in watching this I saw myself and my brothers. While we don’t share the same personalities as these guys (aside from a few quirks, like my desire to plan like Francis), I felt for these brothers as if they were my own. It had me looking into my own future with my siblings and wondering if we will grow as estranged as them; it’s certainly a possibility given how we all desire to do different things. As the movie progressed, I even wondered if I should plan a trip for my brothers and sisters to take. But, that’s more of a personal connection than anything. It won’t affect your viewing of the film, though Anderson, Coppola, and Schwartzman do a fine job to make you care about these individuals. All in all, it’s a fun, introspective experience filled with memorable moments (slow motion running to catch up to a train), solid music choices, and brilliant acting all around. Anderson’s orange color palatte works marvelously with this backdrop, and he does a terrific job in bringing this vision to life with his staging of scenes. “The Darjeeling Limited” isn’t his most notable in the end, due to its more loose narrative and theme, but it certainly deserves to be seen; at least for its characters and cool moments. If you are to see it, however, make sure you watch Anderson’s short film “Hotel Chevalier” beforehand, as it acts as a prologue to the film, featuring Schwartzman’s Jack and his backstory. It’s pretty interesting, and definitely adds more depth/meaning to Jack in the full-length picture (not to mention it is only thirteen minutes). FINAL SCORE: 88%= Juicy Popcorn
Here is the trailer: