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A year after the accidental death of their father, three brothers -- each suffering from depression - meet for a train trip across India. Francis, the eldest, has organized it. The brothers argue, sulk, resent each other, and fight. The youngest, Jack, estranged from his girlfriend, is attracted to one of the train's attendants. Peter has left his pregnant wife at home, and he buys a venomous snake. After a few days, Francis discloses their surprising and disconcerting destination. Amid foreign surroundings, can the brothers sort out their differences? A funeral, a meditation, a hilltop ritual, and the Bengal Lancer figure in the reconciliation. Written by
Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, Jason Schwartzmann as three brothers who haven't spoken for years, on a train. In India. By Wes Anderson.
It's a good idea, isn't it? No...it's a great idea. Three good actors in three-well written roles in an open, exciting and unpredictable environment, while they're also stuck with each other in a cramped an uncomfortable train carriage. With more than a little baggage...
However, despite the bright, new and fantastically shot environment and the well-cast new member of the Anderson family, The Darjeeling Limited is what has become a typical Wes Anderson film. Despite its relocation from the suburbs, or more recently, the deep blue sea, it's still a film about a dysfunctional family and their endeavours to become...slightly more functional. The comedy is derived from sibling tension and the conflicts of the past, and even the music, that typical Anderson blend of quirky yet affecting relatively unknown tracks which is very good and works in all the right ways, feels comfortable and expected despite its "newness".
I seem to be griping because Anderson's fifth movie is as good as the others. And in a way, I am. The Darjeeling Limited is the work of a director who has found his groove (or in this case, his track) and doesn't show signs of trying to get out of it. As a result, not much of it really feels surprising. It's just as well he's good at what he does then, isn't it? It's the way Anderson handles the family drama that sets Darjeeling apart. While it's funny in all those idiosyncratic ways, making light of familial relations and awkward interactions, Anderson's warm, tender approach draws you into the lives of these characters. And, because of their respective flaws and quirks, they become more than characters; you can see them as people.
Anderson's movies have always had genuine heart buried not too far below the layer of offbeat style, so despite its familiarity, Darjeeling is arguably in this respect his best work. You can see a part of yourself in each of the Whitman brothers, and in cinema there is no substitute for that.
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