Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Darjeeling Limited

I finally got to see this today and as expected it was the usual Wes Anderson fusion of quirky characters, whimsical imagery and musical magic. I've loved Anderson's style since I first saw it in Rushmore. I love his flawed characters, the way he creates magic in just a brief moment and of course, how uber-geeky cool his musical choices are. Personally, I'm always amazed at how much he can convey without dialogue, in a brief scene, in a single moment. Plot-wise, Darjeeling is basically a road trip movie--three brothers who haven't spoken to each other in a year (since their father's funeral), make a trek across India to track down the mother who abandoned them. Along the way, sibling dysfunctionality ensues.

Prior to the main event, a 13 minute short titled Hotel Chevalier was shown as a sort of prologue to The Darjeeling Limited. Featuring Jason Schwartzman and Natalie Portman as ex-lovers who have an awkward get together in a funky Paris hotel, the short illuminates a bit of Jack's (Schwartzman) backstory without sacrificing anything in the full-length feature. As for the feature, it is visual feast--filled with colorful settings and scenery--but even more so with colorful characters. Francis (Owen Wilson) is the eldest and an overbearing control-freak, Peter (Adrian Brody) is the middle child who sublimates his fear of impending fatherhood with a penchant for pilfering and Jack (Jason Schwartzman who co-wrote the script with Anderson and Roman Coppola) is the youngest and an angst-ridden writer in the midst of a bad break-up.

On their spiritual quest to re-establish their brotherly ties and reunite with their mother (Anjelica Huston), the three bicker and battle but eventually come to terms with the death of their father, absence of their mother and their imperfect yet unbreakable bond with each other. In one scene, the brothers wake to find the train stopped in the middle of nowhere. When they ask, they are told the train is "lost." "How can a train be lost?" queries Jack. "It's on rails!" When they ask how long it will be until they get moving again, they are told "They haven't located us yet," which Francis interprets as a metaphor for the brothers own search and journey to locate the "us" that they once were. Some may quibble that the three actors don't look enough like each other to play siblings, but they managed to make me believe that they could be brothers. The film is about family, about being damaged, acceptance and trust and leaving your baggage behind. If you like the offbeat sensibilities of Wes Anderson, you will definitely enjoy this movie.

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