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The Darjeeling Limited

August 25, 2010

The Darjeeling Limited (2007)
Director: Wes Anderson
Actors: Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, Jason Schwartzman

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Synopsis: Three brothers use a trip through India to ‘bond’ and track down their long-lost mother.

Review: Any fear that The Darjeeling Limited might suffer from the law of diminishing returns in Wes Anderson’s delectable, but sometime repetitive, cinematic universe can safely be put to rest. In fact, with his latest offering, Anderson actually succeeds in opening up and expanding the dramatic and emotional scope of his work to hitherto untapped heights. Once again, Anderson settles on a unique geography and design concept through which to populate his regular tale of melancholic familial strife, and the notion of three brothers embarking on a spiritual journey through India – and in particular their travails on the eponymous ‘Darjeeling Limited’ express – doesn’t disappoint for Anderson’s ability to indulge his love of meticulous production motifs and delirious tracking and slo-mo shots.

What Anderson seems to be able to progress in The Darjeeling Limited is both the quality of the slapstick (an odd pair of shoes, a poisonous snake, and the brothers fondness for sharing their prescription medications are just a few of the memorable comic elements) and the degree of pathos he is able to inflect. The spiritual jolt the brothers received when paying witness to the funeral of the Indian boy they’d unsuccessfully tried to save felt believable, whereas in Anderson’s previous feature – The Life Aquatic – he tried to fast-track some sense of emotional gravitas when Owen Wilson’s character dies, simply by playing a cool sixties pop song. The fact that The Darjeeling Limited also contains experimentation with narrative form (Anderson includes a short film coda and a long mid-film flashback) evidences that this is a filmmaker who, despite possessing a very particular authorial signature, is still looking to evolve and expand his use of filmic constructs – and in this increasingly anodyne cinematic age, that is something to celebrate. (January 2009)

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