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The Darjeeling Limited


A film review by Dave Calhoun, Time Out

The Darjeeling Limited

USA, 2007
Director Wes Anderson
Starring Jason Schwartzman, Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, Anjelica Huston, Amara Karan, Waris Ahluwalia, Wallace Wolodarsky, Barbet Schroed

Father-related family trauma spiced with fraternal rivalry? Animal-themed whimsy? Owen Wilson and Jason Schwartzman? Yes, it’s the latest from Wes Anderson, about three brothers on a journey through India with a hunch their late dad has been reincarnated as an albino leopard. Expect plaintive guitar rock and sad-eyed absurdity aplenty.
Movie review

Texan dilettante, latter-day New Yorker and committed Euro-cinephile, Wes Anderson has packed his bags for India for his latest, with the work of Renoir, Ray and Merchant-Ivory preying on his mind. Our intrepid fablist lands in a hyper-colourful country that looks like a cleaned-up version of the sub-continent and the result hovers somewhere between the buzzy city-state of ‘Bottle Rocket’ and the over-fed principality of ‘The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou’.

Free of the slowly-creaking cogs of his last movie, ‘The Darjeeling Limited’ is more energetic; it’s a road-movie, set on a train, that’s conventional in its embrace of the journey as a path to healing. Adrien Brody and Jason Schwartzman are brothers cajoled by their domineering older sibling (Owen Wilson) — an unhappy businessman with a mysterious bandage around his head — to take a trip to India a year after their father? s death. It’s time for some serious bonding, escapades with snakes, a little romance and a dose of straight-faced tragedy.

It doesn’t matter where Anderson travels, he always brings Americans with him for company. And often the same Americans, mostly men, usually Bill Murray, sometimes Schwartzman, always Wilson. At least one of those fellow travellers will have a poor relationship with his father, the humour will be dry, unusual, maybe frustrating, and the in-flight entertainment will offer a liberal load of the Rolling Stones and The Kinks, and in this case some local music, too. In other words, it doesn’t matter where Anderson goes: his films belong distinctively to him and his troupe of tragi-comic players will be present and correct (Anjelica Huston’s here, too). Yet for all Anderson’s pleasing, refreshing auteur tendencies, the overwhelming feeling delivered by ‘The Darjeeling Limited’ is of frustration, déjà vu and little progression. Put simply, the comedy isn’t funny enough and the emotions not deep enough. Is that the sound of water being ever so gently trod, Mr Anderson? Bring on ‘The Fantastic Mr Fox’.