The Darjeeling Limited ***
Directed by Wes Anderson
Written by Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola
Owen Wilson as Francis
Adrien Brody as Peter
Jason Schwartzman as Jack
Amara Karan as Rita
Camilla Rutherford as Alice
Irfan Khan as The Father
Bill Murray as The Businessman
Anjelica Huston as Patricia
91 Minutes(Rated R for language. )
Wes Anderson is probably the film maker that I got the most influence out of when I was just starting my journey into cinema. I saw his movie "The Royal Tenenbaums" in early 2002-I was twelve years old-and I realized that there were more to movies than mainstream fare like "Zoolander" and "Rat Race," and it changed my feelings on the whole thing. I wanted more. When his 2004 film "The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou' came out, I thought it wasn't as good as his last film, but a masterpiece all on its own. And his other film "Rushmore" I enjoyed, but found it hard to get into "Bottle Rocket," his first movie. Now three years have passed since "Aquatic" and we have his newest movie "The Darjeeling Limited,"-a much weaker Anderson than I am used to, but still quite delightful, well acted, well made, and has its fair shares of classic Anderson poignancy. Anderson assembled some of his regulars-pal Owen Wilson, Jason Schwartzman, and Anjelica Huston, as well as Adrien Brody who is new but very welcome.
His story is another tale of a fractured family. We begin with a man-regular Anderson actor Bill Murray-trying to run to catch a train. He misses the train, but Peter-played by Brody-manages to catch it, and we watch as Murray stands there dejected. This is a cameo that was not only fun to say "Look, it's Bill Murray,' but also serves as an in joke. Murray, an Anderson regular, decided to take an acting break around when this movie went into production-this is a genius little gag with Murray actually missing the train for the adventure, but making an appearance anyway. On the train-called The Darjeeling Limited-we meet Peter and his brothers, Francis (Wilson) and Jack (Schwartzman), who have not seen one another since the death of their father a year ago. Francis, who got into a car accident and has his whole face bandaged for the entire film, got them together in India to go on a spiritual journey and become brothers again. He really has a hidden agenda, to go see their mother who is living in a convent, but neglects to tell the others. Eventually they get kicked off the train and are alone in India with twelve suitcases, a printer, and a laminating machine, and they get caught up in a current event with the Indian locals.
Anderson has always been perfect with set design and imagery, and with the backdrop of India he doesn't have to build many sets. He is a master of small detail, and it's worth seeing "The Darjeeling Limited" on the big screen to just set let the visuals wash over you. As opposed to his other films, this is more a character piece, with the emphasis being on the three brothers-their chemistry together is perfection. They nag at one another as only brothers can, they lie about certain things to others The inkling of a plot is introduced when they meet Indian locals, but that is so loose and brief that it doesn't even count-its more of a little adventure. Anderson does plenty of his signature ninety degree camera moves, and his focus on one image in the frame, but at times his camera motion got to me. Instead of shifting back and forth once in a frame, he made these scenes that consist of nothing but back and forth camera motion, and while they are skillfully choreographed, it became a bit annoying at times, I will say. The fact that Anderson makes similar movies is a fact that has yet to bother me-he has perfected his own style naturally, something that Noah Baumbach-whose new movie "Margot at the Wedding" leaves a lot to be desired-is trying to force upon us.
In the end, "The Darjeeling Limited" is funny, looks great, and is well acted, but it didn't leave me with the massive desire to see it right away like Anderson's last two films did. This one seemed a bit more rushed out, a minor work in a filmography with three great films already. Even though there was a three year difference, Anderson made this quickly while his animated film "Fantastic Mr. Fox" is still in pre-production. He's going back to that right away, I hear. When I watched "Tenenbaums," and certainly "Life Aquatic," I felt like I was watching a massive event-and "Life Aquatic" actually looks like a huge film to make-so many details and effects, and it seemed exhausting. There was something missing here-a certain element of magic that was there in Anderson's other movies. Maybe it was because this was a more quickly made project, or maybe it was the absence of Mark Mothersbaugh for the soundtrack-which has great Rolling Stones and The Kinks songs to boot. Maybe it was the short run time-barely ninety minutes. I could have used more time with the characters. It would have been welcome. Something left me a little empty after "The Darjeeling Limited," which was always there during his other movies-excepting "Bottle Rocket." I liked this, but this is a weaker effort from Anderson than his last two films.