Monday, November 5, 2007

The Darjeeling Limited (2007)

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There is no mistaking a Wes Anderson film. His signature style of dark humor and emotional button-pushing is omnipresent in the Darjeeling Limited, and is put to its best use since Rushmore. Anderson wrote the Script for Limited, but Jason Schwartzman, star of Rushmore, subsitutes for Owen Wilson as his screenwriting partner. Wilson is involved, however, as one of the co-stars alongside Schwartzman and newcomer Adrien Brody, who play three brothers reunited in a quest to meet their estranged mother on a revelatory trip through India. Only Anderson could make a good film based on such a bizarre premise, and he has made a solid career out of turning absurd family and personal hardships into comical and revealing stories. Limited is everything the Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou wasn't; laugh-out-loud funny, emotionally accessible, and not over most people's heads. The three stars occupy the screen for most of the film, and bring the script to life just as Anderson would have hoped for. Wilson and Schwartzman are veterans of Anderson's films and portray their characters as one would expect, but Brody is the pleasant surprise. As Peter, the middle brother, he is funny, violent, selfish, pathetic, and sympathetic. Sri Lankan actress Amara Karan plays supporting character Rita in her first major film role and delivers a noteworth performance that is both sexy and troubled. The setting of India itself becomes a character and is captured brilliantly. The contrast of the three financially spoiled but emotionally deprived brothers against the spiritual atmosphere of India and the authenticity of the Indian characters maintains an awkward but entertaining tone against which the odd circumstances occur. Unlike past Anderson films, Limited never seems too long or drawn out and will keep newcomers to his style interested. Although he has made yet another film in the same mold as all of his past works, he is still the only one making these movies. The script is so distinctly fresh and so unquestionably different from anything else that it is hard not to enjoy the films. The combination of humor and tragedy presents a film experience with something for almost everyone. And Anderson's use of slow motion, multiple frames, and repeating soundtrack's add even more unique style to already good dialogue and plot. Darjeeling is not groundbreaking, and it may be more of the same, but every two or three years you get a new version of the same successful formula. The approxiametly ten minute short that preceeds Darjeeling entitled "Hotel Chevalier" includes Natalie Portman in what may be her most sizzling performance.

Good For: Wes Anderson fans, someone looking for something new and different, fans of dark comedies

Bad For: people who don't like unconventional movies, people who are bored easily, people who enjoy comedies for the jokes only

The Gallery
The Film Maker: * * * *
The Writer * * * *

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