Movie Review: The Darjeeling Limited (2007)

The Darjeeling Limited is the latest irreverent family/self discovery movie by Wes Anderson. You may remember he’s the creative force behind other offbeat movies likeThe Royal Tenenbaums and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. Sticking with his modis operandi, Anderson picks another unusual place to host his vision – a passenger train traveling across India. The purpose of the trip is to reunite dysfunctional brothers Francis (Owen Wilson), Peter (Adrien Brody) and Jack (Jason Schwartzman).

Once upon the train, it is quickly apparent why the family has splintered in the fashion that it did. Francis is a self proclaimed “daddy” – making decisions for the everyone and having a admonishing opinion on everything. Peter is a transparent narcissist – so much so that he contemplates dumping his girlfriend because she is pregnant. Jack is the flighty brother – the guy who lives for the moment and one who would disperse into the wind if something he doesn’t like were to happen to him. And as one would expect, due to the tiny cabin and forced constant close proximity to one another, instead of relationships getting better, they crumble further. So much so that as the brothers get increasingly obtuse they’re thrown off the train to fend for themselves.

And in typical Anderson fashion, there is a moment (or moments) when the characters at hand manage to put their differences aside. In this case it is during the saving of two boys and the death of one boy from drowning and the ensuing funeral. The brothers come to the conclusion that life is too short and not only should they make amends with one another, they should complete the passage they have started and reach out to their estranged mother.

Unfortunately, unlike his other works, I didn’t particularly like this grouping of eccentrics. Owens tries to make his character his typical soft-spoken, off-key guy but comes off as a stuffy asshole. It’s also difficult as hell to see him with head bandages when prior to the movie’s release he tried to commit suicide. The self-consumed role Brody tackles is equally annoying. It’s hard to feel for a guy who can’t face life changing certainty. Even after his cathartic moment, I didn’t see much in the way of an attitude change. As for Schwartzman’s role, there’s not much to say about it. Aside from a quick fling, he adds nothing of particular value to The Darjeeling Limited.

On the flip side, I did find the role of the mother, Patricia (Anjelica Huston) interesting. For the short period of time she’s on film, I found her oddly entrancing. She’s not the powerful persona I’m used to seeing Huston play (or perhaps expect to see her play is more appropriate). Instead she is a cowardly woman, running from her problems and wholly consumed with her own well being. Yet even though she hasn’t seen her children in years, she acts as if there is nothing to clear the air about. It’s clear where her boys got their attitudes from!

So the long story short for The Darjeeling Limited is this: It’s not nearly as endearing or as fun as the aforementioned films. Somewhere along the line, Anderson forgot that his lead characters need some sort of likable quality, whether it be a quirk or other charming oddity. Aside from the breathtaking scenery of India and the ten minutes of screen time allotted to Huston, there isn’t much else worthy of a view or a memory.

Critical Movie Critic Rating:
3 Star Rating: Average


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The Critical Movie Critics

I'm an old, miserable fart set in his ways. Some of the things that bring a smile to my face are (in no particular order): Teenage back acne, the rain on my face, long walks on the beach and redneck women named Francis. Oh yeah, I like to watch and criticize movies.

'Movie Review: The Darjeeling Limited (2007)' have 5 comments

  1. The Critical Movie Critics

    November 28, 2007 @ 12:15 pm Leticia

    I cared not a wit for the four self-absorbed, self indulgent, neurotic pousers, and found little substance in this clumsy, heavy handed, film.

    Brody’s character – who cared
    Wilson’s character – highly annoying
    Schwartzman’s character – another dopey man-child guided by his cock.
    Houston’s – sorely disappointed — but hey, she had so little to work with

    All three brothers acted like children trapped inside an adult male body. So highly unattractive.

    Nothing new and innovative in terms of art direction. India as a backdrop? C’mon! No need for an art director, just roll the film.

    This was a lame attempt at trying to appear like a “art/indy” flick. I couldn’t wait for the flick to end!

    I give this lame flick…FIVE piles of poop.

  2. The Critical Movie Critics

    February 29, 2008 @ 5:19 pm Hector

    I just came back from seeing this movie. I did not get it because there is nothing to get. The “thing” does not even try hard to be a good movie. While watching it I thought: “Is the director trying to make an European version of a story?” and “How long can this get?.

    As for the first question, this movie shows no ressemblance to an European-style way of making a movie. It deserves a 5-poop rating. A good movie, recently out, is Il mio fratello é figlio unico. There goes a simple, comic, tragic film about two brothers and a sister. That is good cinema.

    As for the duration of the film, there is not even one single minute of this 5-pooper that reaches any level of entertainment whatsoever.

    The characters are insipid. Wilson, with his usual nasal twang, really does not fit into a theme that pretends to be a spiritual quest.

    What a waste!

  3. The Critical Movie Critics

    March 3, 2008 @ 11:25 am mohit aka matt

    i mean yeahh…readin the comment of the ppl who dint like this movie is bit dissapointing for me even i changed my mind for sometime….but i think this movie has got exquisite charm..first of ol those who understand the emotions..true love and feelings of other wld definetly love this movie…

    i mean yea u may say the film is hollow,it has nothin relevant…but deeep down that hollow there is that one cannot c but can experience

    i like this movie and i think it was a diffenrt kinda experience 2 me….music is sometin one shld atleast give a try if they dint like the movie…

  4. The Critical Movie Critics

    August 22, 2008 @ 11:37 am Nici

    I don’t know where your problem lies within, but I really love that movie. I have seen it twice since April, and I enjoyed it both times. It’s pretty funny, has a cool soundtrack, and the actors are doing their job great. Who cares what other people say?! Watch it yourself, and make your own desicion…

  5. The Critical Movie Critics

    August 5, 2010 @ 9:58 pm JJ

    There are several holes in this review.

    Firstly, Adrian Brody’s character does not consider breaking up with his WIFE (note: not girlfriend) because she’s pregnant – he only explains that he’s not celebrating the fact that she’s pregnant because he’s always expected them to end up divorced, despite the fact that he loves her. He doesn’t *want* to divorce her, he just thinks that it will eventually happen.

    Secondly, I think you’ll find that the actor’s name is Owen Wilson not “Owens”, and I vehemently disagree with the evaluation you give of his character. I don’t believe that this character was intended to be “soft-spoken” at all. Indeed, to me it seems the opposite is true. The character of Francis is intentionally annoying; he’s quite overbearing and has a near obsession with being in control and being organised. In fact the very nature of his character seems to imply a reason for his suicide attempt and subsequent determination to “fix” his family – he mentions at one point that he was living alone, a statement that may seem fairly inconsequential but has larger implications of loneliness, and thus suggests a possible cause for his suicide attempt. Much of the meaning of this film lies in implication and suggestion. Wes Anderson doesn’t spell out every little motivation and detail of characterisation or back-story to the audience, but uses the implication of dialogue to make hints.

    Personally I quite liked this film. Visually it was quite striking – Wes Anderson’s use of colour and composition of shots was brilliantly done and added stylistically to the off-centre atmosphere and nature of the film. It was humorous and the characters, in my opinion, were quite charming in their mannerisms and idiosyncrasies. The symbolism of the baggage was well done (often used as a running joke) and overall this film was an interesting and humorous exploration of family relations and dealing with grief.

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