Monday, October 15, 2007

Train in Vain

When looking towards Wes Anderson's fifth film, a lot of people said "is it going to be any good?" My initial response was "It's Wes Anderson. You really can't go wrong." I was partially correct with this after seeing The Darjeeling Limited. What I didn't know was that not only would it meet my expectations, but it would far surpass them. Not that this is the greatest film in Anderson's catalouge, but it may be the first that shows some significant growth.

The Darjeeling Limited is a story of a relationship between three estranged brothers. Francis (Owen Wilson) is the oldest taking on the responsibilities of their deceased father and estranged, lost mother. Peter (Adrien Brody) is the most mysterious with secrets of his own that slowly unfold, is also the most independent and stubborn brother getting the best conflicts out of oldest brother Francis. Jack (co-writer and veteran Jason Schwartzman) is the youngest and the most volitile with a load of emotional baggage including his love of women and his paranoia about his girlfriend (Natalie Portman whose in a single wordless shot, but co-star of Anderson's short Hotel Chevalier.) Aboard the Darjeeling Limited on a highly organized "Spiritual Journey" nothing short of hilarity and conflict insues between the three estranged and strange brothers. Trips to temples where they ask what they should pray for, downing tons of watered down foreign perscription drugs to get a buzz going and squabbles over their deceased father's stuff lead to some hilarious classic Wes Anderson scenes.

As always, the light doesn't only shine on the protaganist(s) in a Wes Anderson film. Leave it to those with a few lines to sometimes steal the light of the journey. Amara Karan, who plays Rita, the apple of young Jack's eye is a beacon of truth and fragility on the train's volitie atmosphere. Waris Ahluwalia plays Rita's boyfriend and cheif steward of the Darjeeling Limited is now a two time vet of the Anderson clan (also in The Life Aquatic) plays as a good wall between the brothers on board antics. Anjelica Huston plays the Mother of the boys in a quicky performance, but an excellent one to boot. The best performance is from Ifran Kahn, who plays one of the locals in India whose performance of a yonug boys father gets some of the films most realistic and heart startling moments.

Where the movie excels into something different for Wes Anderson is in it's actual spiritual journey. After the brothers are thrown off the train, a series of at first hilarious events but shockingly realistic events occurs, they each see themselves for the first time as brothers and as non self centered humna beings for the first time in a year. Their is also a startling flashback scene that is comical and very hard to watch at the same time. This scene shows when the brothers for the first time were veering onto their own paths as self-centered individuals not caring about the importance of family and brotherhood.
Overall, I don't know if The Darjeeling Limited is going to be one of Wes Anderson's best received films, but it is definitely another notch in a great string of films. It's not much different from his other films, yet there is an air of something new here. Maybe the idea of spirituality, the usage of a moving location and the protaganist being a relationship between brothers rather than a specific brother. But all in all, for Wes Anderson fans, this is a triumph. For those who don't like Wes Anderson films, you probably won't like this one either. He's the kind of director that is hot or cold with audiences. The Darjeeling Limited is definitely worth checking out, especially for devoted fans.

1 comment:

j. leo said...

Still pissed we couldn't see this all together when I was there. I'm behind on the loop now.

BTW, this new TV show Pushing Daisies has a very Wanderson feel to it. I think they take a lot stylistic from him and whimsical people like JP Jeneut - it's like Amelie and Royal T's and Babe all thrown together.