Mon October 22, 2007
The Darjeeling Limited
Another strange voyage.
By It's Movie Time's John DeSando
"A voyage to a destination, wherever it may be, is also a voyage inside oneself . . . ." Laurens Van Der Post
It's another strange Wes Anderson voyage, this time on The Darjeeling Limited, both title and train. It's much more eccentric than the train ride for Murder on the Orient Express, less humorous than the boat ride in The Life Aquatic, and much less fun than the families in The Royal Tenenbaums and Little Miss Sunshine or for that matter Dan in Real Life, but it has more somber and deeper moments than many of those while being the least comic in the Anderson canon.
Francis (Owen Wilson), Peter (Adrien Brody), and Jack (Jason Schwartzman) are brothers renewing their relationship by a trip in India on the titular train. As with most Anderson characters, the trip is usually to themselves and from messy lives.
What they learn as a result of the kooky occurrences along the way is never too deep to mitigate the raucous shenanigans. In the case of The Darjeeling Limited, they do learn to create their own meaning and avoid poisonous snakes. After that, I am per usual a bit stumped at what Anderson is striving for beyond a fascinating menagerie of characters and some new age sensibility about family unity and the random universe.
Anderson, however, couldn't have asked for a better alignment of the fates because the troubled actor Wilson goes through the film with a bandaged head, much bigger than Jack Nicholson's bandage in Chinatown but with the same symbolic baggage: life can be dangerous for the seekers and the snoops.
Speaking of baggage, in case you don't get the baggage motif during the film, Anderson hits you over the head with it in the final sequence, leading me to think he needs cheap help to relay meaning as we do to understand it.
John DeSando teaches film at Franklin University and co-hosts WCBE 90.5's It's Movie Time, which can be heard streaming at www.wcbe.org Fridays at 3:01 pm and 8:01 pm and on demand anytime. Contact him at JDeSando@Columbus.RR.com