A Review of Darjeeling Limited..

Its an interesting choice of names .. limited .. for a Wes Anderson film this movie shows a fair amount of restraint. It’s not that it’s not a Wes Anderson movie. Within its confines one will find the slow motion sequences canvassed with classic punk rock music, the portrait framing of characters as if for a holiday photo, Bill Murray (who has appeared in all but one of Anderson’s features). Anderson’s aesthetic and styling has become a cult phenomenon among the semi-well-read, semi-intellectual, overly-pabst-drinking hipster crowd. But as much as one may love Anderson’s work it is, to some, becoming contrived.

Darjeeling doesn’t so much shatter conventions in this vain but at the same time it isn’t as drawn out and heavy handed as some of Anderson’s other outings. That’s not to say it’s not without its heavy moments or its didactic moments especially about family. Perhaps it’s the length of the film (clocking in just over 90 minutes) or the faster than usual cutting. This film just breezes in and past like a train through a whistle stop.

The humor is key here Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody and Jason Schwartzman play off one another with Marx brothers like enthusiasm. There are more jokes in this film than in the last few Anderson movies and the somewhat absurdist situations read like an episode of curb your enthusiasm. Instead of the dry, New Yorker humor we get the dry, Monty Python stuff. It adds up to a maturing Anderson who seems less afraid at churning out something nearly A-list while not alienating his indie audience.

Fatherhood is a recurring theme in most Wes Anderson films. The surrogate, vindictive father in Rushmore, the one seeking redemption in Tenenbaums, the confused but willing child-father in Life Aquatic. Anderson steps out of the issue a bit with Darjeeling by removing the father altogether. One of the more memorable scenes in the film comes in a flashback to the father’s funeral as the brothers try comically to recover some artifacts while running late to their father’s funeral. Instead of the yearning for a male role model Darjeeling says more about the guidance of the mother played briefly, though strongly by Angelica Houston. Owen Wilson’s character, the eldest brother whose desire for some kind of closure spurns the cross sub-continent adventure, emulates his mother’s directness in trying to reconcile his younger brothers into acquiescence in the service of spiritual renewal. He frequently references his mother’s way of summing up a conflict and trying to work to a resolve, finishing with the perennial running line “now.. can we agree to that?â€?

Death is also a theme for Darjeeling. It hangs over the film nearly the way it hangs over real-life; as an ever-present ghost, which haunts us striking abruptly and without clear meaning. Its significance is left up to the interpreter. Any healing to be done, spiritual or otherwise, must be undertaken on ones own. Darjeeling is Anderson’s underlining of family in the importance of this search. Their messy, angry sometimes derisive bickering serving, humorously to tear down at the same time it builds up strength while healing in communion.

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