The Darjeeling Limited (15)

Film

Drama

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Time Out says

Posted: Fri Oct 12 2007

Wilson, Brody and Schwartzman are three brothers who embark on a journey through India a year after their father’s death: they haven’t seen each other since his funeral and Wilson, the older of the three and a dominating presence, hopes that a long train journey will bring them closer together as friends and as brothers. It’s an Anderson movie from the off: the sound of The Kinks and the Stones mixed with the music of Satyajit Ray; the marriage of colour, costume and production-design to create a vivid but heightened impression of the real world; and, of course, the presence of Wilson and Bill Murray – even if Murray appears cryptically for only a few minutes as ‘The Businessman’ (most probably a reflection of the brothers’ father). As ever with Anderson's films, the comic and the melancholic work together, and while ‘Darjeeling’ is lighter on its feet than ‘The Life Aquatic’ because of its more speedy pace and the relative simplicity of its camerawork, we still encounter the familiar sight of privileged but troubled young men struggling to find a place for themselves in the shadow of their family. Does it feel like Anderson is treading water? Yes, sadly, it often does– but an optimist could rightly claim that an Anderson-shaped pool is ten times better than most in Hollywood.

There’s much in ‘Darjeeling’ that’s familiar from many other road movies: stand-offs, arguments, fights, apologies, shared experiences, lessons learnt and relationships strengthened. We discover more about each of the brothers as we go along, but there’s less of the intricate background and layering of Anderson’s other films, particularly ‘The Royal Tenenbaums’, which delighted in the complexity of its biographies. Instead, much is left to the moment and the landscape: Anderson sucks in the sights, colours and oddities of India, from the manner in which tickets are checked on the train to visits to a shoe-shiner and a holy temple. There’s a moving episode involving the funeral of a child who the brothers encounter, which allows for one of Anderson’s trademark slow dolly-shots cut to the sound of The Kinks.

As ever, Anderson’s humour is rarely laugh-out-loud, which occasionally feels awkward here: the set-up, with three depressed Americans travelling on a train in a foreign country, at least superficially calls for comedy. Instead, the effect of the film is subtle as it invites us to share in the characters’ slow transformation, culminating in a late scene in a monastery, where the boys encounter their mother, played by Anjelica Houston. Structurally, the film isn’t entirely sound, and the emotional depth of both ‘The Royal Tenenbaums’ and ‘Rushmore’ is never achieved. But ‘The Darjeeling Limited’ has much charm, is a sensitive piece, is sometimes funny and further shows Anderson to be a storyteller with a touch for the visually and aurally hip that you imagine he couldn’t shake if he tried.

The film is preceded by a superb, 12-minute short film by Anderson, ‘Hotel Chevalier’, which sketches some of the background to Schwartzman’s character, who we find in a grand Paris hotel room, alone and sombre and listening to Peter Sarstedt’s ‘Where Do You Go To (My Lovely)?’ and later contemplating sex with his semi-estranged girlfriend, played by Natalie Portman. This wistful film is sexy and romantic – an Anderson first – and is a beguiling short story. Arguably, though, it’s better than the feature that follows and fosters expectations of greatness that are never fulfilled by the main feature.

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Release details

Rated:

15

UK release:

Fri Nov 23, 2007

Duration:

104 mins

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<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>0</span>/5
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bored

The simplicity of my review matches the simplicity of the story line: crap.

muffin

With an open mind, this film is lifechanging. Open your eyes and see past the simplicity of the plot.

muffin

With an open mind, this film is lifechanging. Open your eyes and see past the simplicity of the plot.

James

Not a good movie. Just plain and simple not a good movie - disjointed - not very funny - just not convincing on any level it tried to be on. Avoid.

Nelly

I watched this film last night, hahahah it reminded me of my family, the odd little quirks they had, and how they affected each other. It's well worth watching !!!!

Dave

I was hoping to see more of India in this movie, but the places are barely explored. They get out of the train, try to have a spiritual experience, and get back in. The flim never corrects their clueless assumption that all you have to do is go to the right place, and use the right feather, and your life will be fixed. The only Indian that has more than one line is, of course, a pretty lady who serves as the token romance part. That India is merely a backdrop to the interaction between the brothers might be acceptable if I cared at all about their story or if any of it was funny.

David

Best movie I saw this year. Why can't all movies be like this one. I might actually go more often. Most people won't get it though. Wonderfully simple.

David

Best movie I saw this year. Why can't all movies be like this one. I might actually go more often. Most people won't get it though. Wonderfully simple.

Larissa

Visually adept. Occasionally charming but otherwise uneven. Overall a typical Wes Anderson movie only one that devotees would enjoy.

Wendy

Brilliant - fvery unny, visually wonderful and emotional too. Favourite film of the year so far - and I plan to go and see it again!

Wendy

Brilliant - fvery unny, visually wonderful and emotional too. Favourite film of the year so far - and I plan to go and see it again!

boundsy

visually very good, but cinematography doesnt make a good film on its own, mildly amusing in places but very little story, plot lines that led nowhere, very pretentious

jack

its wes anderson and the critics are split? surprise surprise..i personally think this is a totally amazing film - definitely a marked progression from 'life aquatic' in terms of the jokes and the chemistry (i found the cate blanchett / owen wilson thing a little awkward although intriguing to watch). This returns to the greatness of the 'tenebaums' in that its a great fable on the family, and the relationships are, umm, emotive, for want of a better word.. In terms of style, this is faultless, and i do agree with the guy just above that it is that style and detail that creates the Wes Anderson world: kinks playing over a traditional funeral shot in slow motion? what the fuck? all in all this is an incredible picture, but it is definitely not for everyone - as always with anderson some love it some hate it. my only criticisms are, yeah, india presented under a clearly western gaze, and anderson's clear obsession with luxury: i can't personally tell if he's a massive rich kid or just emulative, like he desperately wanted to be nobility, but european (old) nobility of course. whatever, i'm off to see it again while its still in the big screens.

jack

its wes anderson and the critics are split? surprise surprise..i personally think this is a totally amazing film - definitely a marked progression from 'life aquatic' in terms of the jokes and the chemistry (i found the cate blanchett / owen wilson thing a little awkward although intriguing to watch). This returns to the greatness of the 'tenebaums' in that its a great fable on the family, and the relationships are, umm, emotive, for want of a better word.. In terms of style, this is faultless, and i do agree with the guy just above that it is that style and detail that creates the Wes Anderson world: kinks playing over a traditional funeral shot in slow motion? what the fuck? all in all this is an incredible picture, but it is definitely not for everyone - as always with anderson some love it some hate it. my only criticisms are, yeah, india presented under a clearly western gaze, and anderson's clear obsession with luxury: i can't personally tell if he's a massive rich kid or just emulative, like he desperately wanted to be nobility, but european (old) nobility of course. whatever, i'm off to see it again while its still in the big screens.

Sutton

A reasonable film. The leads were well acted, the humour was dry and mildly amusing in places, the film is quirky, but nevertheless lacked something to make it into a great film. Typical of his earlier films, though not as good as Rushmore, it is worth seeing.

Rich DeBolonghi

Seeing the trailor I had concerns about this. But it really doesn't disapoint. I was concerned about the casting of Shawtzman but he was great. I am so pleased that the history of great film making has been respected here. With all the terrible films that have been coming there is no way that I can not give this film full marks. The humour is so well delivered, and subtle. If your looking for an all out riot of comedy, this is not the film, lets say its not an over the top Ben Stiller picture, thank god!. All three of the leads were fantastic and I have to say that Owen Wilson pulls out an amazing performance that is obvioulsy pretty close to home for him. No doubt the director knows what he's doing and I have to say it is so pleasing that these great film makers from america are still loyal to quality which I feel is pretty much gone in Europe now, especialy since the digital cameras have taken over to reduce bugets in this continent The film is shot so well and there is great use of the cramped location. If only there was some euro directors that can deliver subtle humour and quality like this. They used to but not now.

Rich DeBolonghi

Seeing the trailor I had concerns about this. But it really doesn't disapoint. I was concerned about the casting of Shawtzman but he was great. I am so pleased that the history of great film making has been respected here. With all the terrible films that have been coming there is no way that I can not give this film full marks. The humour is so well delivered, and subtle. If your looking for an all out riot of comedy, this is not the film, lets say its not an over the top Ben Stiller picture, thank god!. All three of the leads were fantastic and I have to say that Owen Wilson pulls out an amazing performance that is obvioulsy pretty close to home for him. No doubt the director knows what he's doing and I have to say it is so pleasing that these great film makers from america are still loyal to quality which I feel is pretty much gone in Europe now, especialy since the digital cameras have taken over to reduce bugets in this continent The film is shot so well and there is great use of the cramped location. If only there was some euro directors that can deliver subtle humour and quality like this. They used to but not now.

Rob

Anderson's films are getting progressively worse. His trademark visual gags have here coagulated into a dull shtick. Two hours of oh so arch symmetrical framings, pointless swish pans, overly fussy art direction and baroque pop music played over slow motion shots of kookily dressed people walking in profile. Anderson is a director who cares more about lampshades than characters. Anderson has cast Owen Wilson in most of his films. He obviously rates him highly. You can draw your own conclusions form that.

Paul S

This film has a similar subject matter and feel of Anderson's other projects but the new characters and settings are fresh and entertaining. The short film with Natalie Portman and Jason Scwartzman ties in flawlessly into the feature and gives Jack a bigger background to base his character on. And although the reviewer on this site thinks that the cross section from the Life Aquatic boat (not submarine), the meaning of the scene is intirely different and envokes feelings that werent present for much of Aquatic.Although the movie wasnt as complex as Aquatic or as quarky as Tenenbaums, The Darjeering Limited fits into Anderson's work nicely and explores territory that has yet to be looked at in his films. Definitely worth seeing and including in your collection when it comes out on DVD.

Paul S

This film has a similar subject matter and feel of Anderson's other projects but the new characters and settings are fresh and entertaining. The short film with Natalie Portman and Jason Scwartzman ties in flawlessly into the feature and gives Jack a bigger background to base his character on. And although the reviewer on this site thinks that the cross section from the Life Aquatic boat (not submarine), the meaning of the scene is intirely different and envokes feelings that werent present for much of Aquatic.Although the movie wasnt as complex as Aquatic or as quarky as Tenenbaums, The Darjeering Limited fits into Anderson's work nicely and explores territory that has yet to be looked at in his films. Definitely worth seeing and including in your collection when it comes out on DVD.

bradley

I just can't understand the criticisms that seem to be constantly leveled at Anderson. He's "too cool." He's a "fussy" director. He favors "style over substance." Not true in any sense. I saw an advance screening of The Darjeeling Limited in NY, and I found it wonderful and moving. The whole point of Anderson's "fussy" style is to set up a hyper, unhinged reality that removes his characters from the humdrum and places them in an almost fantasy setting in which their actions and emotions resonate clearly. That might sound like crap, but it works (at least for me). Never has a director been able to combine such a sense of melancholy and humor within his characters. All the tiny little details that some critics find too contrived, only heighten the experience in my view. I've loved all his films, and Darjeeling is no exception. By the way, as a Brit, you should appreciate the fact that Anderson "pumps up a strummy Kinks song." when was the last time you heard something from "Lola Vs. Powerman and the Money Go Round" on any soundtrack?

bradley

I just can't understand the criticisms that seem to be constantly leveled at Anderson. He's "too cool." He's a "fussy" director. He favors "style over substance." Not true in any sense. I saw an advance screening of The Darjeeling Limited in NY, and I found it wonderful and moving. The whole point of Anderson's "fussy" style is to set up a hyper, unhinged reality that removes his characters from the humdrum and places them in an almost fantasy setting in which their actions and emotions resonate clearly. That might sound like crap, but it works (at least for me). Never has a director been able to combine such a sense of melancholy and humor within his characters. All the tiny little details that some critics find too contrived, only heighten the experience in my view. I've loved all his films, and Darjeeling is no exception. By the way, as a Brit, you should appreciate the fact that Anderson "pumps up a strummy Kinks song." when was the last time you heard something from "Lola Vs. Powerman and the Money Go Round" on any soundtrack?