Projections - Movie Reviews
With Jim Sabatini

The Darjeeling Limited

The Darjeeling Limited
Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, Jason Schwartzman, Anjelica Huston, Bill Murray and Natalie Portman

Rated: R for language
Reviewed by: Jim  
Release date: October 12, 2007 Released by: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Wes Anderson may be hewing closely to his Rushmore and The Royal Tenebaums, but his peculiarities have a more dextrous charm this time around, as opposed to The Life Aquatic.

This oddly appealing travelogue through India called The Darjeeling Limited concerns the three Whitman brothers, oldest Francis (Owen Wilson), middle Peter (Adrien Brody), and youngest Jack (Jason Schwartzman).

Francis has gotten them to rendezvous with him on the titular train in a kind of Orient Express excursion across India. It's been a year since the siblings have been together after their father's passing. Thus, tension arises since each is hiding something personal. Perhaps the purpose is to reach a harmony. The two younger brothers don't realize what the unstable Francis, art imitating life for Wilson, has in mind when it concerns their now more spiritually-minded mother (Anjelica Huston, also in The Life Aquatic along with Wilson) who's in the Himalayas.

Anderson, seen more in ads of late (even with Schwartzman) for American Express that insinuate his eccentric colorful approach to filmmaking, distinctively works with cast and crew to make the variety of settings come to life. Which includes inside the train as well as the the busy and laid-back sections of India. It somehow coalesces with the unspecified foibles of these still maturing adults. Even though money isn't an issue for these upper-class fellows, it doesn't mean they are comfortable in their lives.

All three work from their wry appearances, Wilson's bandages, Brody's eyeglasses, and Schwartzmann's moustache, and their personal obsessions to make their deadpan natures interesting. Also, sound backup comes from likes of Irfan Khan (The Namesake), Amara Khan, director Barbet Schroeder, even shorter bits from Bill Murray and Natalie Portman.

In moving from a house to a boat, and now, to a train, Anderson has a drolly distracting sensibility down that is hardly mannered. It helps that this capable trio are into his roguish, wacky mindset, as this travelogue is more assured than with Murray's Steve Zissou. The adventure has a range, culminating in a bright, humorous way with the understanding that even the strangest and not so closest of bedfellows can start to get better.

Also, to get some more exposition on The Darjeeling Limited you can download the short film Hotel Chevalier on iTunes for free which nicely identifies a romantic dramedy of the Jack Whitman character in Paris with the reunion of a girlfriend (Natalie Portman) he left a half-year earlier.

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The Darjeeling Limited       B       B

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