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Review of The Darjeeling Limited

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Wes Anderson has a following, the kind of following that lines up hours before showtime at the Hammer museum for Filter Magazine’s bi- monthly “Big Time” event to see his new film, The Darjeeling Limited. I am a fan, but not the kind that shows up hours before – I’m more the type to bother someone I know to get a spot on the “list” and be excited about a free movie. Any free movie.

Wes Anderson’s quirky exploits have won me over and turned me off in the past. I loved Royal Tenenbaums and hated The Life Aquatic. Granted I was stoned in the theater and distracted by the fact that Scott Caan was sitting by me. I kept wondering if he was a midget or not, he’s really that short. So maybe I shouldn’t have smoked, fine, but that film didn’t have me too excited for Anderson’s newest creation, Darjeeling, especially after the reviews weren’t so great for Anderson, a critic darling. But a free movie is a free movie, and I liked the theater at the Hammer – it has hot pink seats which perfectly matched my nail polish color, but I suppose that has nothing to do with this review, just a fun fact.

Opening the film is Anderson’s short, Hotel Chevalier, best known for Natalie Portman’s bare backside, a bit of a prelude to Darjeeling, featuring Jason Shwartzman’s character Jack as he tries to negotiate a meeting in France with his ex, played by the perfectly dry and Andersonesque, Portman. The bright yellow walls of the hotel room and Jack’s orange Marc Jacob’s luggage clash with the downerness that is this relationship. It’s perfectly quirky Anderson without the funny.

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The funny comes in later as Darjeeling opens with Jack (Shwartzman) meeting his two older brothers, Francis (Owen Wilson) and Peter (Adrian Brody) in a first class sleeper car of the Indian cross-country train "The Darjeeling Limited" in a trip planned by the controlling and somewhat maniacal Francis. Francis has planned the trip with the help of his trusty aide, "Brendan" who works on his laptop in another compartment of the train entirely. A year after their father's sudden death, the brothers haven't been in touch and Francis wants to bring them together on a "spiritual journey" through India. What he doesn't tell them is that the real purpose of the trip is to reunite with and find their mother, played by Anderson constant Anjelica Houston, who is living in a convent at the base of the Himalayas.

The three both love and loath each other and their time on the Limited is spent bonding, eating, smoking cigarettes, hitting on waitresses, downing Indian pain killers, and fighting with each other. Their spiritual journey actually begins however, when their inappropriate behavior gets them kicked off the train in the middle of India, with all of their luggage, a laminating machine, and without their trusty aide Brendan.

The casting in the film was great, Wilson, Brody and Shwartzman all dry and quirky enough for us to believe they're real brothers. The orange Marc Jacobs luggage all of them seem to own becomes its own character, being carried and lugged all over the country. The simplicity of Anderson's one liners say so much "I don't feel good about myself", "I want that Indian stewardess" and "I guess I have more healing to do" say so much by saying so little. The true star of the film however is the country of India, the cinematography was astounding, breath taking and beautiful, set against the soulful and folksy soundtrack I had chills throughout.

This is my favorite Anderson film, and even if you're a fair weather fan like myself, you'll like Darjeeling, and you don't even need to be stoned.

AP photo by Newsmax