DARJEELING LIMITED, THE
They haven't spoken to each other since their father's funeral a year ago, but now Francis (Owen Wilson), Peter (Adrien Brody) and Jack (Jason Schwartzman), in their quest for spiritual enlightenment, are about to go for a train trip through India together. Each brother is running away from something: Francis has had a near-death experience, Peter's partner is about to have a baby and Jack is struggling to cope with the collapse of a relationship. But everything that could go wrong does and they find themselves stranded in the desert. Francis has written to their mother Patricia (Anjelica Huston) who is living in seclusion as a nun.
Review by Louise Keller:
Incongruous is the best way to describe Wes Anderson's latest film, a kind of road movie with eccentric characters whose story plays out on a colourful backdrop of Indian culture. 'I wonder if the three of us could have been friends in real life,' Jason Schwartzman's brooding Jack contemplates, as he and his two brothers sit side by side by a blazing fire in the middle of the Indian desert. They are sipping cough medicine, tranquilisers and relaxants, this unfathomable trio with seemingly nothing in common except a year-long bereavement that has left them badly scarred. Each has a backstory that is only briefly touched on; Anderson's script concentrates on the present and we have no idea where it will lead. Though many of the situations border on the hilarious, nothing is played for laughs; the characters' plights and the people surrounding them are deadly serious.
Anderson begins our trip by a short film in which we meet Jack and his ex-girlfriend (Natalie Portman) at the Hotel Chevalier in Paris. Just when we are wondering where it is all going to lead, it's time for the main event and lovers of Anderson's previous films will appreciate Bill Murray's dialogue-free cameo as a businessman who appears briefly twice for no special reason. The three brothers meet up and drive each other crazy on the ornate Darjeeling Limited train, where they blow on peacock feathers, lose a deadly snake, attend an Indian funeral and try to find the spiritual enlightenment Owen Wilson's Francis insists they should find. They're a funny looking trio - Francis with his head mostly covered by bandages, Adrien Brody's Peter who wears his dead father's prescription sunglasses, and Schwartzman's loner Jack who is obsessed by women.
There's a constant tension between the trio, and wry humour alternates with pathos as they discover the trip is not about the destination, but the journey. Angelica Huston makes an appearance as the mother-turned nun who has also made her escape from life, and look out for Barbet Schroeder as the mechanic who is minding a red Porsche with a flat battery. The story ambles rather than speeds with an eclectic collection of music from Peter Sarstedt's Where Do You Go To My Lovely, to Debussy's Clair de Lune. The way Indian life is portrayed is nothing short of remarkable, and is perhaps the highlight of this laid-back, droll film that may not be everyone's cup of tea, but will certainly be appreciated by Anderson fans.
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DARJEELING LIMITED, THE (M)
CAST: Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, Jason Schwartzman, Amara Karan, Wallace Wolodarsky, Waris Ahluwalia, Irfan Khan, Barbet Schroeder, Camilla Rutherford, Bill Murray, Anjelica Huston
PRODUCER: Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola, Lydia Dean Pilcher, Scott Rudin
DIRECTOR: Wes Anderson
SCRIPT: Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola, Jason Schwartzman
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Robert D. Yeoman
EDITOR: Andrew Weisblum
MUSIC: Randall Poster
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Mark Friedberg
RUNNING TIME: 104 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: 20th Century Fox
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: December 26, 2007
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