Posted by: kfugrip | October 21, 2007

One Hundred One: The Darjeeling Limited

As a lover of Rushmore, The Royal Tennenbaums, and Bottle Rocket, (and his Amex commercial) I was eagerly anticipating the release of The Darjeeling Limited, directed by Wes Anderson.  Notice that I didn’t mention The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou in my list of Anderson movies.  I feel a similar way about The Darjeeling Limited.

Spoiler alert. 

The Darjeeling Limited is the story of three brothers, played by Jason Schwartzman, Adrian Brody, and Owen Wilson, who travel through India in an effort to reconnect a year after the death of their father.  On their journey they fight, laugh, and mourn the loss of their father and attempt to touch the spiritual side of themselves.

What I liked:  All of Wes Anderson’s films feel like they are Wes Anderson films.  It’s the argument for the auteur theory made flesh.  Every element, and especially the composition of individual shots, is under the control of Anderson (or so it seems) in his movies.  The Darjeeling Limited is beautifully shot and beautifully acted.  The performances of Wilson, Brody, and Schwartzman outweigh the visuals in this movie and that is a good thing.  Brody in particular is very moving as the brother who continues to wear his dead father’s sunglasses even though they have prescription lenses in them.

My favorite moment in the film was when the brothers go to see their mother and she exhibits some of the mannerisms that Wilson’s character has shown earlier in the movie.  It’s a very telling scene and it feels like something that actually happens in life.  The final montage, of all the characters in the film, is an elegant way to end the movie.  That’s what art is all about right.  The film is filled with moments like this, where actual life shows through the trappings of Wes Anderson’s mind.

What I didn’t like: The trappings of Wes Anderson’s mind have grown too tired and seem more like a “bit” than they do the organic process of telling a story.  In particular the musical interludes are very distracting.  Anderson’s character, while they behave in a very human way most of the time, they are loaded down with idiosyncrasies and quirks that are no longer charming.  The attempts to make some of the needle drops into diagetic music with Schwartzman playing his ipod at various times, begin as jokes but become tired after the initial incident.  There’s too much quirk in the movie, and it relies on it too much as a point of interest.  Anderson is such a great filmmaker that and he’s better than these bits of quirkiness.

3 stars (but very close to 4)




  1. i keep thinking about this movie. and i think i loved it.

    4 stars.

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