The Darjeeling Limited
Written and directed by Wes Anderson
Starring: Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, and Jason Schwartzman
The Darjeeling Limited,” the latest film by Wes Anderson, is a tour de force of overt symbolism. In the film, three brothers bring their emotional baggage (played by real luggage) to India (played by India) and go on an emotional journey (played by a train ride) to confront their past (played by their mother).
It’s hard living in Wes Anderson’s universe. Chances are ennui is the pervading feature of your life. That and you are estranged from your entire family. On the plus side, your outfits are awesome, your luggage is mind blowing, and you live a life of eccentric luxury. These are reasonable trade-offs, especially when you consider how awesome the luggage is.
In this case, the luggage was designed by Marc Jacobs for Louis Vuitton, and it was decorated with safari animals hand drawn by Eric Anderson (Wes’s brother). I know this because the luggage was credited right below the main actors, which gives you a sense of how powerful a performance that inanimate matching wardrobe set gave.
It is no secret that Anderson is a huge fan of J.D. Salinger (See “The Royal Tennenbaums”). Just as Holden Caulfield once judged his roommates by their luggage, the immaculate wardrobe set in “The Darjeeling Limited” can tell a lot about the characters and even more about Anderson’s style of filmmaking. The mere fact that a set of luggage could play such a prominent role in a movie belies Anderson’s almost obsessive attention to detail.
Anderson’s mastery of detail is perhaps his greatest talent and his most annoying tendency. He has the ability to capture a moving and poignant scene and at the same time lure your attention to the comic detail. Whether the detail adds or detracts from a scene is a matter of contention. Though “The Darjeeling Limited” is rife with such detail, for the most part, it contributes rather than detracts to the air and feel of the film; “The Darjeeling Limited” is a visually stunning film. The sets and scenery are saturated with vibrant tones of blue, rust, and yellow. Anderson’s India is a fictitious country imagined out of picture books, Kipling, and travel guides. This world is at once quaint and desolately beautiful.
Combine the scenery with what essentially amounts to a buddy travel flick, and you’ve got yourself a pretty entertaining film. There’s nothing extremely deep or profound here, and that may even be intentional — the brothers’ attempts to find a deeper spiritual connection are most often disrupted by the need to get a drink and smoke a cigarette. What you do have is plenty of sight gags, copious abuse of Indian over-the-counter medication, and the deadpan wit and quirky dialogue that is the signature of a Wes Anderson movie.
I could describe the rest of the movie for you, but that would mainly involve references to previous Wes Anderson movies. This bodes well if you’re a Wes Anderson fan and not so well if you think he’s too precocious for his own good. For the Wes Anderson fans out there, here’s all you need to know: Owen Wilson is Dignan again, “The Darjeeling Limited” is the Belafonte, the man-eating tiger is the Jaguar Shark, and Pagoda is still Pagoda.
If that isn’t enough to convince you to watch it, at least go for the wardrobes, scenery and luggage. They are magical.