Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Director Of The Month Film Review: Wes Anderson - The Darjeeling Limited

Rating: 5.2/10 - Average
Welcome to the final review of a film by our Director Of The Month for May 2011, Wes Anderson. See what my thoughts are on The Darjeeling Limited after the jump.

Director: Wes Anderson. Screenplay: Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola and Jason Schwartzman. Producers: Wes Anderson, Scott Rudin, Lydia Dean Pilcher and Roman Coppola. Executive Producer: Steven Rales. Cinematographer: Robert Yeoman. Editor: Andrew Weisblum. Distributor: Fox Searchlight Pictures. Starring: Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, Jason Schwartzman, Anjelica Huston, Waris Ahluwalia, Amara Karan, Natalie Portman, Bill Murray, Camilla Rutherford and Irrfan Khan. Running Time: 91 Minutes.

The Darjeeling Limited stars Owen Wilson (Francis Whitman), Adrien Brody (Peter Whitman) and Jason Schwartzman (Jack Whitman) as three American brothers who embark on a train trip across India as a way of reconnecting one year after the death of their father. Francis is the oldest brother and he is the one who came up with the idea of them meeting up on a train across India. His younger siblings aren't nearly as enthusiastic about the idea as he is but, as you'll discover when watching the film, he is a very persuasive person. Peter is the middle sibling and as is the case with most middle children, he lives a comparatively more normal life than his brothers and he is indeed the only one amongst them who is married although he has a deep seated fear of ending up in a divorce. He is also probably the least enthusiastic about this reunion voyage and definitely wouldn't have joined them if it wasn't for Francis' persistence. Finally there's the youngest brother, Jack, who is the barefoot ladies man in the family. He is also an aspiring writer although, to the protestations of his brothers, the events in his stories bear more than a passing resemblance to the events in their lives. Together they make quite an odd band of brothers and from the moment they get on the train you can already see that this won't be a run of the mill, train voyage across India film (not that there are many others).

While on the train, called The Darjeeling Limited, they discover more and more about each other as siblings and some of the discoveries are not so pleasant. They then go through the motions, trying to make sense of what they've with their lives and, most importantly, where to go next in both a figurative and literal sense.

After the hustle and bustle of the opening scenes, the film never really gets going and instead gets bogged down by Wes Anderson trying to make another "Wes Anderson film" like The Royal Tenenbaums rather than sticking to the basics getting the story right. The film suffers as a result and you can't help but feel that this would've worked out much better as a 30 minute short film. Instead what we get is overdrawn film that is neither funny nor particularly engaging as a drama.

The brilliant prologue, Hotel Chevalier, is vastly superior and I encourage you to watch it when you have the chance to. It is but a small reminder of how what a great film The Darjeeling Limited could have been.

Verdict: A so-so film about self-discovery and brotherly love that might please die-hard Wes Anderson fans but hardly anyone else.

The Darjeeling Limited is available now on DVD.

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