I need to start off this review with a disclaimer, I love Wes Anderson’s films, love, love, love them, and I love this one too, but I will try to be unbiased and will write this review with average movie fan and not as a Wes Anderson fanatic.
So The Darjeeling Limited is a train, and the title of the film, obviously. And this train carries our 3 leads on a path to hopeful bonding and self/group discovery. Francis(Owen Wilson), the oldest, has organized the brothers, Peter(Adrien Brody) and Jack (Jason Schwartzman) on an itinerary filled trip around India that none of them really know what they are going to get out of it. Having been estranged from each other for a year, since the death of their father, the three brothers treat each other with little trust while still being able to get along, relatively.
All of the brothers turn in some good work here and are all equally likeable as they are laughable, with all of them barring flaws that they can’t really hide or seem to care to. I enjoyed Brody the most of the three brothers with a simple awkwardness to him that resonates into the film quite endearingly. Wilson is also great as the “leader” older brother trying to take control and trying to make himself a leader with a ridiculous bandage on his head. Schwartzman is equally as good as his counterparts and has some great moments with a stewardess, Amara Karan, on the train and is the brashest of the three along the way.
The trip itself is full of quirky characters and great little stops along the way, with the ultimate destination proving to be an important destination for all the brothers, whether they want it to be or not.
The film is constantly funny when it wants to be, which is most of the time, but has a severe tonal twist about 2/3 of the way through. While the quality fails to fall, the movie gets pretty serious for a while, including a flashback that is properly placed, paralleling their reconnection to their falling out, that might have been funnier if it wasn’t connected to the wait of the scene it is spliced into. The movie quickly becomes funny again as soon as it can be and remains funny tell the end, some people will argue the tonal change makes this film a failure as a comedy, but it’s funny when it wants to be and the sadness doesn’t ruin anything in the film whatsoever.
Anderson’s style is unlike any other director out there, except those who copy him, and he creates a fun world to visit which is more the reason to visit this great little field. Jason Schwartzman and Roman Coppala helped write the film with Anderson, which they did on their own journey through India, and that experience shows through in their script as we get to visit some amazing locales in India, which is almost a character itself in the film.
The film is constantly funny, full of life and adventure, with great acting wrapped up in nice little story of discovery. If you are a fan of Wes Anderson, it’s a must and betters The Life Aquatic, if you don’t know who Anderson is and want a light hearted adventure full of quirky characters and laughs then this is a good fit for you as well.
B- for average film goers – A- for Wes Anderson faithful
P.S. If you decide to see this film, make sure you go to iTunes and download the short film prequel, Hotel Chevalier, starting Jason Schwartzman as Jack and his Ex-Girlfriend(Natalie Portman), which contains a number of little plot points and nods throughout Darjeeling, which make a bit more sense with a viewing of Hotel Chevalier.