Rental Pick: The Darjeeling Limited (2007)

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The Darjeeling Limited (2007)

A year after their father’s funeral, three brothers travel across India by train in an attempt to bond with each other.

To say it’s a quirky movie is an understatement, you’ve come to expect that from Wes Anderson, but I think this one felt extra kooky as it has a bit of a fish-out-of-water tale on top of being a road movie. Peter (Adrien Brody), Jack (Jason Schwartzman) and Francis (Owen Wilson) play a trio of brothers on a *spiritual* journey in India a year after their father’s funeral. Despite not looking at all alike, the three actors actually look pretty believable as a family and the peculiar dynamics among them is pretty fun to watch, at least initially. 

The *spiritual* aspect journey is not really there, as it’s used a pretext to the actual reason for the road trip. Francis didn’t tell Peter and Jack about the real reason until later in the film. Apparently a motorcycle accident where he said he nearly died made him want to reconnect with his brothers, and he planned the trip meticulously with the help of his assistant. The title refers to the train that they’re riding on, and it serves as some kind of metaphor. I’m not quite sure what that is, but it could be symbolic to each of the character’s life? Now I really want to LOVE this movie but I feel like I never felt quite invested in the story for whatever reason, and the constant bickering of the tree boys sometimes get tiresome instead of amusing.

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About halfway through, I noticed my hubby nearly falling asleep watching this. Though I was more engaged than him, I could understand why he tuned out. Nothing rarely happened in this movie, it was simply one kooky scenario after another along their journey, i.e. Peter buying a small cobra in a box (and later losing it), Francis having one of his very expensive shoe stolen, a weird ceremonial burying of a peacock feather that I have no clue what it’s about, etc. I think the only truly memorable scene, which is the most emotional one of the entire 1.5 hour running time, is the time the three brothers rescued three Indian young boys who fall into a river. It’s a moment of benevolence for all three of them that seemed quite life-changing.

Some of the metaphors range from obscure to obvious, but since I don’t really connect with the characters, it’s lacking emotional resonance for me. The Louis Vuitton luggage set with their dad’s initial on them represent an emotional baggage of some kind, though I still have no clue just who their father was other than he must’ve been well off. Towards the end, their mother (Anjelica Huston) entered the picture. I wouldn’t spoil it for you but that experience also changed the way they look at their lives and each other. By the end, their relationship had a 180-degree turn from being reluctant siblings who couldn’t stand each other. “I wonder if the three of us would’ve been friends in real life. Not as brothers, but as people,” Jack asked halfway through, and I think the ending answered that question for us. I do like that the story is primarily focused on these three characters from start to finish. Bill Murray‘s cameo as a businessman felt like it was well, obligatory, as I don’t think there’s really a point to his appearance.

Now, I’m glad I finally saw this as even a so-so Wes Anderson film and despite its flaws, it’s still fairly entertaining. I quite like the music here by The Kinks, The Rolling Stones and the French song in the finale Aux Champs Élysées seems to fit the mood of the scene perfectly. That said, I don’t consider this one my favorite amongst Anderson’s work. In fact, it’s just not something I’m keen on watching again, unlike The Fantastic Mr Fox, Moonrise Kingdom, or his latest one, The Grand Budapest Hotel. Stay tuned for my review of that on Friday!

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What do you think of The Darjeeling Limited?

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45 thoughts on “Rental Pick: The Darjeeling Limited (2007)

  1. Great review, Ruth. I agree on every point – this is fun and kooky, but it doesn’t linger like Anderson’s best work. In fact, I think it the worst film he’s made (that I’ve seen), probably, but like you said, it is still far from bad.

    1. Hi Josh! I really wanted to like this but it felt too slow at times. I didn’t want to say boring per se but just not engaging. It’s not bad, but compared to the more fast-paced Grand Budapest Hotel, I can’t say it’s my fave.

  2. Very nice review Ruth. We have talked about it some but I think this film sinks or swims based on the audience’s ability to connect with the characters. If the brothers don’t resonate with someone then the film isn’t going to either. They did connect with me which is probably why I liked it a bit more than you. It isn’t perfect for sure nor is it Anderson’s best and there are also plenty of others who feel the same way as you. But I did have a lot of fun with it.

    1. Hi Keith! You said it best Keith. But the thing w/ Wes’ work is it’s an acquired taste. I didn’t dislike it, I just wish it had made more of an impression. I definitely enjoyed it more than my hubby did though, ahah.

    1. Hi Mikey! No quirky stuff for ya eh? I think Wes’ movies is an acquired taste but I do like his eccentric style. So did you like this movie?

        1. Oh you just mentioned the last two older Wes movies I haven’t seen yet. I’m hoping to catch both soon so I can start ranking his movies 😀

  3. Good review Ruth. This is probably my least favorite Anderson movie, if only because it feels like he gives us barely anybody to identify with or even like for that matter. They’re just all so whiny and sometimes, annoying.

    1. Hi Dan! I take it you’ve seen all of Wes’ work? I have two more of his older films I need to see before I can say if this is my least fave. Yeah, the characters are tough to like, and the constant bickering did get on my nerves at times.

  4. Ted S.

    I’m not the biggest fan of Wes Anderson and I wanted to check this movie out but never got around to it. I might give a rent sometime since I haven’t a film by Anderson for a long time.

    1. If you’re not Wes’ biggest fan, I’m not sure you’re gonna enjoy this one Ted. I would recommend Grand Budapest Hotel though, that one is more fast-paced and the story is more engaging, at least to me.

  5. What a lovely film this is. Not as good as Rushmore or Tenenbaums, but lovely just the same. Glad you had a positive enough experience Ruth. I shall give it some Reddit respect.

    1. I still think it might be worth a look Michael. You said you’re a completest right, well I feel like since Wes didn’t have a huge filmography, I should try to get to all his films by year’s end. I might rank them when I’m done w/ all but I don’t think this one would end up in my top 3.

  6. This is actually one of my favorite films by Wes Anderson. It’s the one that I think was a major return-to-form after the disappointing reaction he got over The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou which I actually liked. Here, I think the story was more focused and the story about the brothers made the film more engaging. Everything about the film made sense as it introduced me to Satyajit Ray, the Kinks’ album Lola Versus Powerman and the Money Go Round which is one of their finest albums, and all sorts of things.

    Bill Murray’s cameo definitely baffled people but there’s been many interpretations about his appearance as some believe that he’s the ghost of the father of the three brothers. I showed this film to my parents as they’re not into the films of Wes Anderson but they did love this one.

    1. Hi Steven, seems like people are split about this one. I don’t dislike it, I just didn’t find it to be as engaging. I do like that there aren’t soooo many people in the cast, so yeah having the focus on the three brothers is nice. I think the music is pretty cool.

      I actually thought Murray was their dad in a flashback scene, but then I saw Brody’s character trying to catch a train w/ him and I thought, hmmm, who IS this guy?? I think Wes just wants to work w/ Bill Murray, that’s the only reason.

      1. Any excuse to have Bill Murray in a movie and have him be in India for a few days is a good excuse. I saw the making-of doc of that film where things were much easier to deal with as opposed to the production of The Life Aquatic as I watched that making-of doc and found myself getting a headache over how tough it was.

        1. Ahah well I guess I can’t complain seeing Bill Murray, I always liked him. So yeah even if it seems pointless to me, it’s not a deal breaker by any means. They must be such good friends that they kept working together over and over.

  7. Damn! I was hoping for a higher rating here, Ruth. I absolutely love this film. It’s my favourite of Anderson’s and actually used to be in my personal top ten films. (I like it that much)

    1. Sorry Mark. I REALLY want to love this, but ah well it is what it is. I think like Keith said, the movie sink or swim based on how I connect with the characters. I think emotionally it’s a bit lacking for me, even if those brothers are pretty entertaining to watch.

  8. I’m slow to see Wes Anderson’s work so haven’t seen this yet. I fancy checking it out though given how enjoyable Budapest Hotel turned out to be.

    1. Hi Dan! That’s the same reason that I saw this. I think Budapest Hotel is far more enjoyable for me overall, stay tuned for my review of it on Friday.

    1. Thanks Fernando! Though it’s not my fave, it’s still very much worth a watch. I don’t know yet where this would rank amongst Wes’ filmography, still need to see two more of his older ones.

      1. I haven’t seen Bottle Rocket or Steve Zissou. Wasn’t the biggest fan of Rushmore or Moonrise Kingdom. LOVE Darjeeling, Mr. Fox and Tenenbaums. Really looking forward to Budapest Hotel.

        1. Oh, make that 3 I haven’t seen yet! I haven’t seen Bottle Rocket, Steve Zissou and Rushmore. I’m most interested in Zissou as one of my good friends LOVED it, she’s seen it countless times. Plus it’s got Murray in the lead and it has Cate Blanchett!! 😀 Budapest Hotel is great though, it’s more fast paced than his previous films IMO.

          1. I really think I’d like Zissou, and yeah, the cast is amazing. Can’t wait for Budapest! Love the cast and the visuals and the fact that Saoirse’s character has a birthmark on her face shaped like Mexico.

  9. I watched this during a time when I wasn’t reviewing movies. So I cant e TOO analytical of it right now, but I remember loving it. I don’t disagree with you regarding it’s flaws, but don’t think I felt the same way when I saw it.

    Might need a rewatch. Nice work Ruth!

    1. Hello Shah! Sometimes I’m willing to overlook the flaws if I was still entertained by something. This one did bore me sometimes so I can’t say it was thoroughly enjoyable, but still worth seeing nonetheless.

  10. I remember not hating it, which is more than I can say about most of Anderson’s films – I used to dislike him, but that arrow killing the dog in Moonrise Kingdom buried that man for me.

    1. Oh yeah, that scene is just too heart breaking. I don’t think cat lovers will like what he did in Grand Budapest Hotel, that’s all I’m saying 😉 The film itself is quite fun though.

  11. Great review! This is actually one of my favorite Wes Anderson films. (This or Moonrise Kingdom would be my #1.) His quirkiness just worked for me here, but I can see it being boring or irritating.

    1. There were times that it made me laugh but at times it irked me. That said, I’m glad I watched it and I’m still open to seeing Wes’ previous movies, I still have 3 more to go: Bottle Rocket, ‘Steve Zissou’ and Rushmore.

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  13. Was not a fan of the movies he made before this, but this movie slowly started changing my mind about him. It has been too long since I have seen it, so can not remember too much about it, but I did enjoy this one.

    1. Hi Nostra! Tho I’m not as enamored w/ this one as some of Wes’ other works, there’s still a lot to like. I still need to see Rushmore and Life Aquatic tho, since it’s got Bill Murray in the lead role I might like ’em more.

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