The Darjeeling Limited

Wes Anderson movies: hype, good content or shallow narratives of pretentious twits? All of the above. I have seen Rushmore, The Royal Tannenbaums and The Darjeeling Limited (in this order). The whiff coming of Life Aquatic sounded so bad that I didn’t even try it. I also don’t need to see Natalie Portman’s ass in Hotel Chevalier the short film that sets a prelude to this one. First off, the good stuff: nice acting (good casting of the periphery characters), gorgeous art direction and cinematography, apt music selection, and a couple of genuinely amusing/funny moments. All three brothers are suppose to be shallow assholes, and Owen Wilson plays that really well. Adrien Brody worked only because his character was callous to his wife, but it’s hard to stay mad at Brody. I still believe Rushmore is the best of Anderson’s work, and I sort of a soft spot for Jason Schwartzman as a result (though I have only ever seen him in Anderson stuff). Now the bad: Anderson’s postmodern narratives are fairly decent on the smaller levels, but bad in the overall themes. I did a get a sense that the brothers had united in the end, but the constant material symbolism that is infused felt flat to me. The use of the suitcases, Peter’s (Brody) obsession with their late father’s things, the perfume bottle, Francis’s belt, and so on. The women in Anderson’s movies are 2D or severely underdeveloped with the exception of the teacher in Rushmore (played by the beautiful Olivia Williams), but even though she seemed sidelined in the end. Rita (newcomer Amara Kara) is the object of desire in this film, but she too is pushed off early and becomes yet another object of desire and projection for one of the male lead’s (Schwartzman’s Jack). The hype that follows Anderson as a life changer auteur has always been a bit much, but maybe I’m not as invested in (or traumatised by) family dysfunction and wealth/materialism, two things that feature in most of his works. Often, I feel indifference for Anderson’s characters and plots, but appreciate the visuals, some of the comedy and music. TDL is worth watching for the Indian visuals and art direction.

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