Stuck Up Cinema – The Darjeeling Limited

Movie: The Darjeeling Limited
Released: 2007
Directed by: Wes Anderson

After Nathan’s review of my much anticipated ‘Moonrise Kingdom’ I was left with Wes Anderson on my mind. For those that don’t know him, Anderson is given the cred of the ‘Indie director’ because all of his movies have a very distinct style. I don’t really view his films as ‘indy’, they’re rather quirky, colourful and usually you can tell it’s one of his movies just by seeing a shot from it. Yes, he’s one of those directors.

He’s also really fricking great at what he does. I haven’t seen all of his movies, but every one of his that I have seen I’ve loved. My personal favorite is The Darjeeling Limited. It has some nostalgia (5 year old nostalgia) for me because it was the first Wes Anderson movie I saw and it was also my first Criterion purchase, but no matter how many times I watch it my love for it increases and I come to respect it more as a film.

The movie follows three estranged brothers played wonderfully by Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody and Jason Schwartzman. They are on a journey through India on the Darjeeling Limited, a train, as a sort of spiritual bonding journey. Of course, being a film, its dramatic narrative ensures that there are some unexpected twists and turns along the way. The story is great and the characters are all wonderful. This movie is a comedy, but not one that you can expect to laugh out loud to the entire time. The moments where the jokes hit they hit strong and on the flip side when you’re supposed to feel your heart break your heart completely shatters.

There’s this one moment in the film that I’ll always love. The three brothers are walking along a river where some kids are wading through it. They get caught in the tides and begin to get pulled under. The brothers rush in, each of them with a kid to rescue. The end result is one of the most gut-wrenching deliveries of a line ever by Adrien Brody, one that I can still hear in my head as I write this entry now.

The movie is, as expected with Wes Anderson, absolutely beautiful. The colours in every shot are vibrant and a treat to look at. There is no wasted space in every frame and from a blocking standpoint this cinematography is perfect. The way the camera pans across the action, highlighting every moment with the characters is technically impressive and tells the narrative in that quirky and unique Anderson way.

I don’t think I have a raging hard-on for Anderson, I haven’t seen a lot of his earlier movies but there is something that is just so cute about his films that you can’t help but love them. With all that in mind I’m not blind to the fact that some may find the way the characters droll on to be pretentious or ‘hipster’, I just disagree with that. Wes Anderson isn’t for everyone, yes, but there is a good movie here with good characters. There’s a great story, great direction and great score. The Darjeeling Limited is just a great feel good movie.

One last side note before I finish up this review and head out on my way until Wednesday, all three of the male leads are fantastic but I found myself most impressed with Owen Wilson. His character wasn’t too far from what we’re use to seeing Wilson play, but you could see him work hard to try and keep the trip going by his ‘strict’ agenda. You feel for all of the characters, they’re all flawed and selfish but human, however I found Owen Wilson was the one I truly felt the most for.

Go see this movie. There isn’t much else to say at this point. I’d just describe it the exact way I described it up there. So if you want to hear more about it from me, go reread this post, if not: go get your hands on this fantastic movie. In the meantime, I’m going to go watch Moonrise Kingdom. Expect a review of that coming soon.

The Darjeeling Limited: 9/10

I also highly recommend checking out the related short film that comes with The Darjeeling Limited. Do it.

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