The Darjeeling Limited


Darjeeling, as I’m aware of, is a name of a few things. Darjeeling is the name of a town in West Bengal, India, a black tea from the leaves of that very area, and a boring, overzealous movie directed by cult icon Wes Anderson.

Anderson is known for stringing together a multi-textured universe of disenchanted characters in enchanted worlds. Mostly stubborn, faithless and wholly despondent, Anderson’s characters sluggishly mope throughout a plethora of extravagant set designs and Crayola like colors in search of redemption and love. It is, then, entirely odd that Anderson’s newest film, The Darjeeling Limited, comes off as a malted palette of mustard yellows and drab, steel grays.

Darjeeling Limited begins with three brothers traveling across India on a train. Of course the brothers, who haven’t seen each other in some time, hope to re-connect through lots of uneventful dialogue and fruitless slapstick gags (because running into a door, wall, object at full speed hasn’t been cornered by the Hanna-Barbara market yet).

Francis (Owen Wilson) is the agitator of the movie’s plot, and is the brother who is responsible for wrangling up fellow siblings Peter (Adrien Brody) and Jack (Jason Schwartzman) to go on a spiritual journey to rediscover themselves while saving children in peril and having affairs with stewardesses. Francis, like many of Owen Wilson’s characters, is energetic and drumming with ideas. Peter and Jack, on the other hand, are far less excited and drolly accompany Francis’ excursion into the depths of India with little initial interest.

The movie itself relies on the subtle crawl of dry, inconsequential dialogue and lots of camera panning until it reveals its plot. Apparently the trio of brothers are to traveling to see their mother. Their mother, in great offbeat Wes Anderson fashion, has abandoned them to become a nun in the mountains of India. Anderson’s strokes, which usually pop with color and enthusiasm, are tired and dull. The characters languish in their own deadpan delivery and lumber around even when purposely excited. There are no spasms of life in The Darjeeling Limited, just marred results of past films which had much more tread on their unique tires.
Highlights of the film include a snake being released upon the train our protagonist travel on and several jokes about the illegal use of prescription drugs.

An elicit and offensive cameo appearance by Natalie Portman is also thrown in, along with one of Bill Murray running in slow motion (which is offensive because of its insignificance). With all of its eccentricities and bizarre meandering, The Darjeeling Limited is actually drab, and flat. For all of its dialogue, the only interesting lines involving the Darjeeling Limited just may be the confused ones gathering to see this hackneyed mess. A hugely disappointing fare.


Author: Rob Patrick

The program director of the Olympia Film Society, Rob is also a former San Diego Film Critics Society member. He has written for The East County Californian, The Alpine Sun, The East County Herald, The San Diego Entertainer, and the San Diego Reader. When he isn't curating a film festival, he is drinking rosé out of a plastic cup in Seattle or getting tattoos from Jenn Champion.

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