"The Darjeeling Limited"

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Film Review 05.01.2009

"The Darjeeling Limited"

"The Darjeeling Limited", first released in 2007, tells the story of three brothers who meet again after one year of not having seen each other to go on a spiritual journey together. It was directed and co-written by the American director Wes Anderson. Two of his former works include the "The Royal Tenenbaums" (2001) and "The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou" (2004).

The melancholic, tragic, but also warm and funny comedy-drama, starring Owen Wilson as Francis, Adrien Brody as Peter and Jason Schwartzman as Jack, mostly takes place in India. The eldest, Francis, tries to reunite the three brothers since their father´s death. Travelling across this beautiful country is supposed to help them to find themselves as well as one another. He has planned the trip to take his brothers on a spiritual journey and to seek the unknown.

The most important thing to him is to be able to trust each other again. Nevertheless, he keeps secret the visit at their mother´s place, a nunnery in the middle of the Himalayas, to find out why she refused to go to their father´s funeral. After the siblings are forced to leave the train due to misbehaviour, which is just another manifestation of the mistrust among one another, the intensity of their sentimental experiences increases even more.

Critics say that Wes Anderson didn´t create anything new by making this film. They compare it to his previous work, "The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou", and therefore consider it an acceptable progress, but since the main topic seems to always circle around the same kind of issues (parental difficulties, personal struggling) a significant development is missing. The artist himself instead says : "I just want to make films that are personal, but interesting to an audience. I feel I get criticized for style over substance, and for details that get in the way of the characters." Another opinion regards the fact that three obviously rich Americans are fooling around in a very poor country. Despite knowing that it could be an easy target for criticism, Anderson still brought another of his visions to life.

The look and the music are superb as usual. The beautiful and picturesque landscape-shots combined with music by "The Rolling Stones" and "Satyajit Ray" (an Indian film-maker from whom Anderson got some of his inspiration), among others, create a warm, tragic and partly odd atmosphere. The director´s love for details - plenty of them can be found each time one watches the film - makes it even more interesting and amusing, although letting the main characters carry Louis Vuitton suitcases as a symbol for leaving their emotional baggage behind is rather questionable.

This comic and melancholic piece of art is not only entertaining to fans of Wes Anderson´s style of film-making, but to anyone who likes soulful, funny films with a certain amount of seriousness. "The Darjeeling Limited" artistically deals with issues of trust and the hope that it´s never too late to change oneself, even though some people might criticise a lack of depth.

Marleen Heitzmann