Monday, March 24, 2008

The Darjeeling Limited

Wes Anderson... in the forefront of the hipster douchebag movement of young filmmakers. He of the quirky older music in odd sections of film and who I probably have to blame for the headache of the Juno soundtrack. Anderson has given us: the second and third act failure of Rushmore, a masterpiece of the h/d movement in The Royal Tenanbaums, and a fiasco of a failure in The Life Aquatic. So what the heck did I expect here? The answer: pretty much what I got.

Very much in The Royal Tennabaums feel the story starts off with three brothers Jack (Jason Schwartzman), Francis (Owen Wilson), and Peter (Adrien Brody). The elder Francis kicks up an idea to meet and ride the train also named The Darjeeling Limited around India on a spiritiual journey. The real motivation is for them to finish their journey in Nepal to visit their mother (Anjelica Houston) who in typical Wes Anderson fashion has become a nun. Their mother never showed up for their father's funeral the year before and all of them seem lost now.

All three of the brothers are all going through trials and tribulations. Jack is messed up by his ex-girlfriend (Natalie Portman) - who if you have watched Hotel Chevalier (the short preceding the film) is playing with his head by showing up unannounced and having sex with him. Peter's wife is pregnant and he is still caught in the transition of boy to man... he has retreated into all of his father's possessions for comfort. And never quite addressed in the film, Francis tried to kill himself on his motorcycle. You also get glaring symbolism from all of their father's baggage the brotheres carry with them on their journey.

The real difference between The Darjeeling Limited and Tennanbaums is the lack of sympathy the audience feels towards the characters of the former. Only Jack is ever given a deeper character. You get a look into his life that you are never quite given with Peter and Francis. Besides that the whole script feels very minimalistic and not in a good way. How are you truly supposed to care about these people without knowing anything about them? Brody and Schwartzman do what they can with the roles, while Wilson gives another perfomance he could have done in his sleep.

The overall effect is that of modest enjoyment. You feel fortunate for the little pieces of brilliance you get and yet you long for what you could have had.


* Wes Anderson needs to try something a little different. He needs to get out of the 70's look with rich, spoiled kids. Only four films in and I'm getting tired of his schtick.

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