Overview: Three brothers gather in India to ride a train one year after their father’s death. Indian Paintbrush/Fox Searchlight Pictures; 2007; Rated R; 91 Minutes
That’s My Train: Having expanded his scope with each passing film, Wes Anderson provides here a deeply personal tale of brotherhood. Family is well fed through the Wes Anderson anthology of films, but none of his other works have made the onscreen family conflict so barbaric or deeply affecting. Each brother arrives from different parts of the world, wearing the markings of tough times. Love loss, grieving, drug use, and depression have left Francis, Peter, and Jack (played by Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, and Jason Schwartzman, respectively), deflated and defeated. Trust issues loom over their every conversation, shaking the very foundations of their fraternal relationships. In the midst of meeting up for the first time in a year, the boys take a spiritual journey through India as they attempt to reconnect with each other. Eventually, flashbacks to their father’s death explain the brothers’ inability to open up to one another, but the journey to that point is long, and by the time we arrive there, we have developed an intimate connection with this family.
The Darjeeling Limited: Elaborate sets, an eccentric soundtrack synced to their cultural surroundings and striking art design establish a vibrant world for the director and characters to explore. All of the Wes Anderson tropes have been utilized in this film, but the most elegant application of his trademark style is found in the shots of the passing cities and desert (steady cam shots moving along horizontal and vertical lines), where desolate landscape and gorgeous architecture remind us of the brothers’ otherness, their alien status. The Darjeeling Limited is fully realized in every technical aspect of Anderson’s reliable vision, and serves as a creative stepping stone in an already imaginative career.
We Haven’t Located Us Yet: The film’s humor is largely situational. From the train breaking down to the brothers forcing the traditional Indian spiritual rituals on each other, the laughs are as steady as they’ve come from an Anderson film. The pacing of the movie is also a splendor, moving from the opening train sequence through the desert land. The Darjeeling Limited only hits a road bump in it’s over reliance of having Owen Wilson’s expository explanations fill gaps where the viewer doesn’t need catching up.
Bengal Lancer: Somewhere between its dark comedy and its drama, The Darjeeling Limited dares to be a movie that cuts deep into universal sibling issues. From the opening sequence in which The Businessman (Bill Murray in a misleading cameo) misses the train, to the time spent in the empty deserts of the Indian outback, The Darjeeling Limited holds as a minor masterpiece.