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This review is from: The Darjeeling Limited [DVD]  (DVD)
The Darjeeling Limited contains all the quirky elements that Wes Anderson fans know and love but there's something more here, too. This story has a greater emotional depth than his previous films and out of the usual dry humour and stylish set piece encounters emerges a subtle and ultimately rather moving story of acceptance and reconciliation.
The film opens with a wonderful scene in which a frantic businessman (Bill Murray) races for a train and is overtaken by a younger man (Adrien Brody) who passes him and leaps aboard as Murray slows to a resigned halt. Youth and age, hope and disappointment, the chance nature of existence; it's all here in a gorgeously filmed slow-motion sequence that entices us into an almost dreamlike readiness for the weird misadventures to follow.
The Whitman brothers (Brody and Jason Schwartzman) brought together by the eldest, Francis (Owen Wilson), haven't seen each other since the death of their father and Francis wants them to reconnect on a spiritual journey through India on a luxurious train (the eponymous Darjeeling Limited). Each brother is unhappy and dissatisfied in his own way and good karma is in short supply. There is bickering, suspicion and the petty accusations fly. When the brothers are thrown off the train (for harbouring a poisonous snake) they seem bound to go their seperate ways until they chance upon three boys whose raft has capsized in a swollen river. They save two but the third is killed. The brothers are welcomed into the boys' village and invited to attend the funeral.
Suddenly the bickering and angst is overtaken by a profound and respectful sadness and a burgeoning self-awareness and the rest of the brothers' journey is coloured by the impact of the boy's death and the memories it evokes of their father's funeral a year before.
The brothers continue to their journey's unlikely conclusion (featuring a lovely cameo from Angelica Huston as their mother) but there are plenty of questions left unanswered.
Really, though, the plot of The Darjeeling Limited is not the point. The colour, atmosphere and tone envelop us in a beautifully realized other world that feels both visually magical and emotionally real. Anderson's detractors always accuse him of having more style than substance but it is really a matter of where we look for the film's meaning. It may be light, daft in places and with barely a plot but the characters' journeys are real enough. The performances are terrific and the three leads spar beautifully together. Few other directors can match Anderson for visual flair and with its rich palette of Indian colours the film is a visual wonder. There is plenty of dry humour, too, and some laugh out loud moments. And though the tone remains bright there are moments so poignant and evocative that we sense the darker shadows behind all the brilliance.