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?