October 23, 2007

REVIEW: The Darjeeling Limited (C+)

Background: After disappointing virtually all of his fans with The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, Wes Anderson returns with The Darjeeling Limited, featuring his usual cast (Owen Wilson, Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, Anjelica Huston, et. al.) and a new member to the group, Adrien Brody (The Pianist). Filmed entirely on location in India, The Darjeeling Limited was originally made with a 13 minute short, Hotel Chevalier, that was meant to be screened before it in theaters. Apple and iTunes got mixed up with the studio and distribution details, though, so it wasn't yet being shown when I saw Darjeeling in theaters.

Synopsis: Francis (Wilson), Peter (Brody), and Jack (Schwartzman) Whitman are three estranged and extremely neurotic brothers from New York who are each struggling to cope with their father's death a year ago. Francis has planned a spiritual journey on The Darjeeling Limited train line through India, though he hasn't told his brothers that their final destination is Nepal, where their mother (Huston) has run off to become a nun in a convent. Their journey is clearly in trouble from the first day, as they bicker and whine their way through their ailments and moods. Over the next days of their journey, they achieve no spiritual enlightenment but instead just fight and fuss. After getting kicked off the train and witnessing a really unexpected death, they eventually trek their way to Nepal and reconnect with their mother, who essentially just encourages them to continue their journey - and off they go.

I Loved:
+ That it was filmed on location in India.

I Liked:
+ The minor details - color, luggage, facial expressions, etc.

I Disliked:
- The soundtrack. Gasp! Sorry, I just get sick of the same songs being used in movie after movie. I think Wes Anderson needs to upgrade the memory on that iPod used in the film.
- Adrien Brody's inability to play a typical Wes Anderson character - he's a good actor, just not the right casting choice here. Stick Luke Wilson in as the third brother instead.

I Hated:
- The feeling that I had seen all of these characters before in the other movies - the quirkiness and witty remarks get a little tired the fifth time around.
- The plodding story - I didn't feel like it was going anywhere, and the prolonged ending was awkward.

Writing - 7
Acting - 8
Production - 9
Emotional Impact - 8
Music - 4
Significance - 3

Total: 39/50= 78% = C+

Last Word: I really didn't like The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou or even The Royal Tenenbaums as much as Bottle Rocket and especially Rushmore. Because of the downward trend, I didn't expect much from The Darjeeling Limited. That being said, I'm surprised at my grade. I question whether it was really that bad, but the more I think about it the more I remember bad parts. Had I never seen any of Wes Anderson's other movies, I probably would have loved it. But precisely because it was so similar to the other ones, I couldn't find anything new to like. You could separate the video and audio in the trailer and know within 3 seconds who made it. It's nice to have a recognizable style, but not when it gets stale. Somehow, in always trying so hard to avoid cliched characters, Wes Anderson has created his own cliche. Besides that, the plot of Darjeeling is really pretty weak. Look, I like Wes Anderson's movies and he has an original style, but I think fans of his later movies are actually just wistful for the old days.
I saw Rushmore at 1:00 PM opening day at the now closed Har-Mar theater, and it's probably one of my top 20 favorite movies ever. Since then, every time Wes Anderson comes out with a new movie I'm hoping for Rushmore 2, but I'm always disappointed. I'm sure I'll see his next movie (which will obviously be about quirky friends/family dealing with neuroticisms), but my expectations are about as low as possible right now.


  1. I had an idea for your blog... when you post a review, maybe in the first line, or subject line, you should tell people whether a movie is worth seeing.

    Otherwise I skip most of your posts because I haven't seen the movie yet :)

  2. Sorry, Dave! My philosophy is to discourage reading reviews before seeing the movie. Actually, then, I guess I encourage you to skip them until you have seen the movies. Weird. Maybe I'll change that someday though...

    But - if you simply skim down to the "Grade" and "Last Word" section, you should be able to decide what's worth seeing and what's not.

  3. Ah the grade, that's exactly what I was looking for... I'd make it in the subjectline ;)


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