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The Darjeeling Limited

A comedy movie directed by Wes Anderson

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This is a train-ride that never gets old.

  • Aug 12, 2011
Rating:
+5
**** out of ****

I first watched Wes Anderson's "The Darjeeling Limited" about two-to-three years ago. It was my first film in terms of the writer-director-auteur, and it wasn't exactly a warm welcome to his wonderful world. I found it dry, sporadically funny and sometimes amusing, but nonetheless hollow at its core. It was lacking in both sincerity and depth for me. Then I saw "Rushmore", "The Royal Tenenbaums", "Bottle Rocket", "The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou", and when it released, "Fantastic Mr. Fox". Then I revisited "Darjeeling". And I say that in a more literal sense than you may think.

You see, I didn't just revisit the film once. I revisited it maybe two or three more times before I decided on the fact that I enjoyed it. It was on the fourth time that I loved it, and it's on this fifth time that I'm finally able to re-review it. But back to that "visiting" bit. You might be wondering what I meant by that. So I shall tell you (what I meant). Great films, set in great places, give you the sense that you're actually staying in the area, momentarily, with the film's characters. You feel as if you've been getting to know even the smallest of characters (for me, a good example of this would be Kumar Pallana's Indian character that at one moment in the film, sits next to the brothers). This is how I felt with Jacques Tati's delightful "Mr. Hulot's Holiday", a totally unrelated film conceptually and perhaps even stylistically, but in the sense that they both make you feel like you're revisiting the setting, I believe it's a relevant comparison.

Anyways, this isn't a film essay; this is a review. So I'll write it like it's one. The setting is India. The characters are Francis (Owen Wilson), Peter (Adrian Brody), and Jack (Jason Schwartzman); three brothers with the last name of Whitman who reunite for the first time in a year. They last met at their father's funeral; one which their mother (Angelica Huston) did not attend. They seek answers out of themselves, out of each-other, and out of their only living parent. This is why Francis calls together the three of them; and sets up a spiritual journey across India. It's sort of a story of self-discovery, deception, brotherhood, and many other things as well.

The characters know all-too-well how to be themselves, but they know not of how to be good brothers. They lie, they cheat, they tell one something that they won't tell the other; which always ends in a tragic and sometimes even humoristic reveal. There are moments when they are content and moments where they argue. Anderson knows how to craft human drama, and along with his screenplay, his direction, and his three wonderful actors; he is able to successfully run the human element into the ground.

Did I say argue? Yes, that's something that the brothers do indeed do. But what brothers, or sisters, do not bicker from time-to-time? Argument is a part of life; it can be either intelligent or pointless. But what I like about the things said here, as far as arguments go, is that nothing is ever mean. I hate mean comedies. Characters shouldn't be unrealistically nice to each-other, but we should be able to sympathize. The characters here are not, indeed, "mean". In the end, it's actually a kind, caring, sweet tale of appreciation and relationships; and I came to like these characters the more I watched the film.

The director's last film before this one was "The Life Aquatic". I had a tough time finally accepting that one, but after much thinking, I just slapped a rating on it; and it was a recommendation, in that case. "The Darjeeling Limited" is a film that feels as much as its audience does; unlike the earlier film, which just feels for itself. I found "The Life Aquatic" completely unrelatable and almost emotionally apathetic, but the work in the production design and cinematography departments, as well as the acting and directorial areas, more than made up for those flaws. This is a more accessible film. I like it a lot. The production of the film is fascinating; with Anderson and his crew paying a lot of attention to unnecessary visual detail, something the auteur has done since "The Royal Tenenbaums"; a film in which he was really allowed to explore. I love it when directors are given space to expand and tell their stories in various ways. Anderson is a storyteller in the traditional way, the musical way, the visually symbolic way, and many other ways too. That is why he's such a unique soul.

With performances that match its incredible, almost epic spectacle; this is easily one of my favorite films from 2007. It is a deep, thoughtful meditation on how people work; how their gears both grind and spin. Each Wes Anderson film tells a similar story of how people can be themselves and appreciate each-other. In "The Royal Tenenbaums", love and admiration came after death. Here, it comes after the train has left the station yet again.

If you like Wes Anderson, then I definitely recommend this one. It is whimsical and passionate in every sense of the word(s). There are few dramas like it; with humor that comes both through laugh-out-loud gags (big-ass glasses and those awkward little moments in life that we all encounter) and things that are funny, but for reasons we might not even know (irony). Say you don't like Wes Anderson though...and you might not. He's not to everyone's taste or liking. And if you don't like "The Darjeeling Limited" when you see it, if you happen to take this recommendation, and you come back and tell me that I was wrong, wrong, wrong; then I have but one thing to say to you. In the words of Rhett Butler, "Frankly my dear(s), I don't give a damn."

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More The Darjeeling Limited (2007 m... reviews
review by . March 23, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Aboard the Darjeeling Limited it's a Funny and Enjoyable Ride
Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody and Jason Schwartzman star as brothers on a journey to the Himalayas to find their mother who left the family to become a nun. Most of their travels are on the train named the Darjeeling Limited. Wilson’s character, Francis, tries to be the leader of the bunch which doesn’t always go over well. Brody’s character, Peter, has a wife who is pregnant  (7 and a half months along) and she doesn’t know he on this trip. …
review by . March 03, 2008
posted in Movie Hype
`The Darjeeling Limited,' should be evaluated by how much mirth and wisdom it provides. The film comes across like a train wreck, giving us a fresh take on the familiar culture clash between East and West. While watching this film, I kept thinking of The Beatles and their films. One reason is that the three brothers presented run (madcap) through the titled Indian train; the other is that they journey through the heart of India searching for wisdom.     At the start of the movie …
review by . December 24, 2007
If you haven't cared for Wes Anderson movies in the past, THE DARJEELING LIMITED will probably not help you get over that hurdle. In my opinion, his flat-out funniest film is still THE ROYAL TENNANBAUMS...but if you don't like that, it's hard to imagine you would like DARJEELING.     On the other hand, if you're a fan of the quirky, dead-pan, drier than dust humor, coupled with unorthodox camera work (a motionless camera, or a camera that moves side to side but seldom in and …
About the reviewer
Ryan J. Marshall ()
Ranked #11
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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Wiki

The Darjeeling Limited is a 2007 American comedy film directed by Wes Anderson, and starring Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, and Jason Schwartzman. It was written by Anderson, Schwartzman, and Roman Coppola. The film also stars Waris Ahluwalia, Amara Karan, Barbet Schroeder, and Anjelica Huston, with Natalie Portman, Camilla Rutherford, Irrfan Khan and Bill Murray in cameo roles.
 
The protagonists are three American brothers: Francis, Peter, and Jack Whitman, who haven't seen each other for a year, since their father's funeral. The film begins as they meet each other in a train that travels through India, which is named The Darjeeling Limited.
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