Just asking for punny movie reviews involving references to the titular train, The Darjeeling Limited finally rolls into a wide theatrical release.

The Darjeeling Limited








   The last Wes Anderson movie, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, was the one that began to elicit a few cries of lost magic from former die hard fans turned burnt out turncoats.  It was certainly the broadest reaching of his works, an episodic plot featuring turns including pirate attacks and what ultimately proved to be an untrue father-son reconciliation. 

   The Darjeeling Limited has had its share of haven’t-even-seen-it-yet detractors who also claim that Anderson has lost whatever it is he used to have.  Others have suggested that his work continues to show its seams to the audience, that it is a cinematic mad-lib of artistic cinematography combined with highly strategic music.

   I agree with pretty much everything about that line of thought towards the Anderson movies. He has shown himself by this point to be essentially a one-trick pony.  With the exception of his debut Bottle Rocket, his movies have dealt exclusively with the longings and emptiness of the lives of over-privileged white people, typically selfish yet endearing in a quirky way, with a soundtrack that was clearly planned before dialogue was even written, and apparently an appearance by Bill Murray and Angelica Houston.

   But the thing is, it works.  Perhaps I’m something of an apologist, because despite knowing all of the above, I still continually find myself sucked into the world he paints, I connect with his characters and I even find myself searching iTunes for the soundtrack.  And so it is safe to say Darjeeling Limited had me as soon as I was introduced to all three of its main characters, the Whitman brothers, played by Owen Wilson, Adrian Brody, and Jason Schwartzman, three rich American brothers riding a train across India.

   The Darjeeling Limited, despite it’s road movie backdrop, is likely the smallest, most claustrophobic of Anderson’s movies to date.  It maintains such a close portrait of its three main protagonists, who are so rarely separated from one another that even when the boys are kicked off the train for fighting, or the worlds apart the characters seem from each other at times, the movie never really feels like it leaves the close confines of their shared cabin.  

   So while watching an Anderson film is an experience of familiarity with his previous works, to me it never comes off as redundant. It feels very much like looking at a series of paintings by the same artist during the same period of his life, looking deeply for a level of truth in slivers of the same image, with only a few slight variations, that when pondered more seem to make an immense difference.

The Darjeeling Limited: A.

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