The Darjeeling Limited has to be one of the oddest films I have seen recently, and one of the best. In typical Wes Anderson style it is the tale of redemption and salvation for a dysfunctional family, told in the quirkiest manner possible.
Three brothers who have not spoken since the funeral of their father a year before set off on a journey across India by train. Ostensibly planned by one of them as a journey of self discovery and spiritual healing, the real goal is even deeper and more meaningful.
The film follows the brother's adventures and misadventures as they travel towards their destination. The planned spiritual experiences have limited effect, but after a seismic cataclysm befalls them they slowly start to realise what is important in life and all three start to find the spiritual healing they all need. It's a beautifully told story of discovery, both of the self and of the wider world. Written and directed by an in form Wes Anderson, and featuring some excellent performances from the three leads this is a film that sticks in the memory and manages to deliver a message without being preachy. There is also a great cameo from Anderson regular Bill Murray.
Five stars, no hesitation.
on 1 September 2012
It beggars belief how this movie has got only 3 and a 1/2 stars from other people. ...But I am not other people. This movie is about relationships. It follows the fragile and volatile relationships of three materially privileged brothers (they were raised in a disfunctional family) as they come together to partake in a 'spiritual' journey. It is surely an acquired taste. But how refreshing for those who tire of the way most movies these days seem to be crammed with computer animation and effects and nauseatingly fast action. The soundtrack works well, with an eclectic, bohemian mix of classical, and mostly sixties pop/rock (such as 'Where Do You Go To My Lovely' by Peter Sarstedt, who was himself raised in Darjeeling with several other brothers). I will not attempt yet another long account and critique of the story. The more complimentary reviews here accomplish that more than competently. But if you like the idea of a quirky, often touching comedy, set against the colourful backdrop of old-world India, this could be for you.
on 21 July 2009
I'm trying to put my finger on why I didn't like this film as much as I wanted to. I love Rushmore, Tenenbaums and even Life Aquatic - so was excited to see his latest one.
But during the film and at the end, I just had this inescapable feeling on anti-climax and dissapointment. None of his films are never known for their action scenes, exhilerating endings or passionate hollywood style characters - but I as i sat and saw the whole plot unfold in the 1st 45 minutes - i then felt the remaining 45 mins felt a bit drawn out and pointless. Yes there were some humorous moments and some character development - but there was also some bits on which nothing was devloped - the natalie portman scene was intruging but was actually pretty pointless apart from any arty little short. the sex scene with the stewardess, again did little to extend the plot or characters and the meeting with the mother did little other than show the audience where owen wilson picked up his bad habits from.
All the characteristic elements are there - evocotive use of colour and stage sets, distant yet eccentric characters, slow motion sequences set to old folk songs, amusing scenarios, sparse dialogue - all that you associate with a wes anderson film - so I can only put it down to the plot, script writing or acting. Neither of which again are terrible - I just feel that maybe anderson has become a victim of his own style. I read one review that said anderson is trapped in his own little stylistic world and needs input from someone other than his regular cast of characters and producers - which i think is very true. working with someone who has a different style and input could push him to vere his talents to something with a slightly different dimension to it.
I feel it is a film where the result certainly doesn't meet the sum of its parts - all the right ingredients are there, it just doesn't seem right this time around. What I fear is that anderson becomes too involved in this little world the magic he puts into his films becomes tired and the effect diluted as it becomes too familair.
I am already thinking that my inspiration to go to the cinema and watch another wes anderson film about the parental and sibling relations of a rich yet eccentric family, who are having a reunion in someway - shot in his characteristic style, with an interesting soundtrack, featuring owen wilson, bill murray, angelica houston and a pale well spoken english girl, will be somewhat diminished having seen it done 4 times already - which is a shame, as what he does is done so well.
I didnt hate it - I will watch it again, its just too similar to everything else he has done to provide me with any wow factor. I was amazed the first time i saw tenenbaums with its style. rushmore's lead person max was just so likeable in his youthful brashness and i liked the mix of elements in life aquatic (humour, loss, dissapointment, action and soem strange animation!) - but TDL just didnt deliver anything noteworthy like his previous films have.
on 8 June 2009
Having always liked the sound of Wes Anderson's films, `The Life Aquatic' and `The Royal Tenenbaums' both failed to live up to my expectations, despite the latter being a commercial and critical success. His archetypal studies of the human condition through damaged characters and dysfunctional families, is an acquired taste, but I've always been drawn to the intelligence and warmth inherent in his movies; despite their flaws.
The Darjeeling Limited follows the fortunes of three American brothers who have been estranged for years and who all meet up on the eponymous train travelling across India, in order to repair their fractured relationship and to simply be brothers again. Owen Wilson is the domineering older brother, Francis, whilst Adrian Brody and Jason Schwartzman play the younger siblings. Francis' regimented behaviour - at one point even telling the others what they should order from the buffet car menu - soon causes the newly renewed relationship to fracture; this is compounded by the brothers' crazy behaviour getting them kicked off the train by the irate steward.
Eventually, after a further series of trials and bonding moments, the three find their mother - who abandoned them as children - and an emotional reunion takes place. This being a Wes Anderson film though it's not that straightforward, and through flashback we see how the three became estranged in the first place.
The film is a hit and miss affair overall, but I found it altogether warmer and more engaging than the director's previous works. The three actors work well together, and with a brief cameo from Bill Murray and plenty of humourous moments on the train, this is very watchable and not a little entertaining.
The main feature is preceded by a brief film titled `Hotel Chevalier'. Starring Jason Schwartzman and Natalie Portman, it recounts younger brother Jack's surprise visit from his ex-girlfriend, and although nothing much happens - she appears, they have sex, they look out of the window onto Paris - it works reasonably well as a prologue to the main film.
on 14 February 2013
The film is about three rich brothers that take a train trip though India. They haven't spoken in a year since their father's funeral, and the trip is supposed to help them get closer together. At first, it all goes wrong as they fight with each other. They all suffer from depression and take a lot of painkillers. When it seems like nothing is going right, their crazy experiences along the way slowly put things into perspective. They finally start to grow up and turn into men.
It is a well made film. The wonderful cinematography shows off some wonderful Indian locations in a highly stylised way. The brilliant camera movement through the train cabins and the close-ups of the three brothers give this film a peculiar and unforgettable feel. The script is comical with plenty of dry humour and laugh out loud moments. The fantastic soundtrack gives the film a timeless feel.
The three main actors all do great jobs and each character has a highly unique personality, which is very typical of Wes Anderson films. They are rich, rude, brutally honest, unkind and untrustworthy. Anjelica Huston is marvellous, as usual. All the characters relate to each other in an interesting way and this all builds up towards a great finale. I can't think of anyone in the film that I didn't enjoy or that didn't work in their role.
The film is like a metaphor for life for life's journey, in some ways we are all aboard the Darjeeling Limited going to an unknown location. Towards the end of the film you learn that it's not where you're headed that matters but how much baggage you carry along with you. The film gives you a lot to think about. It is well worth watching and it'll make you want to visit India.
Wes Anderson is at his best when he explores a small group of people -- sometimes family, sometimes not -- and explores what makes them tick.
And after the cluttered "The Life Aquatic of Steve Zissou," Anderson returns to those roots with "The Darjeeling Limited." Technically it's an Indian road trip movie, and it's full of his quirky charm... but at heart it's just about three unhapppy brothers with a lot of baggage. Both literally and psychologically.
The forlorn Peter (Adrien Brody) and his luggage barely make it to an Indian train in time to join his brothers, woman-chasing writer Jack (Jason Schwartzman) and bandaged control freak Francis (Owen Wilson). They haven't spoken for a year, and now they're planning to awkwardly bond as they travel to their estranged mother's convent.
But after disasters involving a snake, painkillers and pepper spray, the three brothers find themselves (and their monogrammed suitcases) thrown off the train. As they trek back to civilization, the three men set out on a quest to explore the spiritual, deal with life, death, feathers, man-eating tigers, funerals and their own painful memories... and possibly find their mom.
Nobody in their right mind would expect Wes Anderson to spin up an ordinary good-ol'-boys road trip movie. At least, not the way most directors would. Instead, Anderson crafts this as the baby brother to "The Royal Tenenbaums," exploring a fractured, mildly dysfunctional family with an absent parent.
And the cinematic flavour of "Darjeeling Limited" is much the same as in "Royal Tenenbaums" -- bittersweetly funny and arch, with a tinge of poetic melancholy underlying the plot. It would be an endearing movie in any setting, but somehow putting it in the mellow glow of India's dusty roads, bright fields and cluttered shrines makes it even better. The bright, visual richness gives it a sense of whimsy.
For the record, Roman Coppola and Schwartzman helped Anderson out with the script, but there isn't much change. As always, lots of wry, amusingly contemplative dialogue ("I wonder if the three of us would've been friends in real life. Not as brothers, but as people"), though there is some hilarious comedic scenes of sibling infighting. It even gets slapsticky.
Fortunately, Anderson never puts artificial twists into the story, for any extra drama, comedy or thrills; the closest thing would be a brief detour into a child's funeral. The story simply flows by, because it's all about the brothers -- and focusing on anything but their self-imposed journey would just be extra baggage.
And the three men playing Jack, Francis and Peter are nothing short of brilliant. Brody is vaguely lost and forlorn, while Schwartzman is a quirky rake who is still haunted by his last girlfriend (played by Natalie Portman in the short intro, "Hotel Chevalier"). But there's something almost painfully wounded about Wilson's reckless control freak, which has nothing to do with his bandages.
"The Darjeeling Limited" is a visually astounding, contemplative little comedy, all about three men who have to deal with the past before they can move on. Put it on the shelf next to "Royal Tenenbaums."
on 2 February 2015
i would have to say i was let down by this. I am a big wes anderson fan and i get his style and i love it to be fair but here in as much as you can nothing really happens which can be the anderson way the big issue is that none of the three main characters are Likeable. This is a big problem here and one that kills most of the film. The soundtrack is good, the quirkiness is fine. the oddball pacing is ok and is there but i didnt care for anyone here, i didnt care one jot and that for me is andersons first fxxk up.
on 24 April 2014
Such a colourful quirky movie about three brothers reuniting.
The visual is really such a big part of this move and the blue ray format really makes the colours pop
'The Darjeeling Limited' is another kooky gem from Wes Anderson and if you know 'The Life Aquatic' or 'Royal Tenenbaums', then you'll know what to expect. The direction is very stylised but completely captivating. Owen Wilson is hilarious, as are Adrian Brody and Jason Schwartzman. The relationship between the brothers is very believable and the dialogue and their familiarity add real appeal to the overall story. There are many wonderful scenes and I found Brody's dry delivery of some lines only heightened the humour in them. The storyline is charming, about reconnecting with family and resolving past issues, and it meanders along at a gentle pace, but manages to hold you attention for the whole duration. There is also a short film at the start involving Schwartzman and Natalie Portman which is both touching and a serendipitous addition. I thoroughly enjoyed this film and would recommend it to all fans of Anderson's past work.
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While this got very mixed reviews from the critical establishment, as well as here on Amazon, I found I really enjoyed it. Wes Anderson's style is consistent with his earlier films; the same great use of pop music, great tracking shots, low key, oddball humor and detailed performances. But here, in the story of three brothers trying to re-connect on a trip to India, there's once again a human, emotional core under the absurdity. Not perfect, but better than 98% of what's getting made.
The Criterion Blu-Ray is really gorgeous, but the regular DVD, non-Criterion release still has quite a nice image. Go for the Criterion if you can, but if cost is a big factor better to get the plain old DVD than not get the film at all.