A film about trying to make your mother love you even if you have to travel to Indiato track her down and force her to. A comedy about wanting to make your brothers stick with you and join you where you’re going, even if you have to hide their passports so they can’t flee the country. And a very mature film about immaturity. Wes Anderson’s The Darjeeling Limited is a bit too truthful, too revealing of our secret fears and insecurities, too colorful and yet too dry, too funny, too clever. Too genius.
I want us to make this trip a spiritual journey where each of us seek the unknown, and we learn about it. Can we agree to that? Francis Whitman.
And this is how the constant love blackmail that Francis Whitman is guilty for, begins. The struggle to be joined on a spiritual journey, the need to seek the unknown together with someone else, the desire to be in a team that strives towards a common goal and the longing to be recognized as the leader of this group and to be the one who will set the goal they’ll all aim to achieve, is what characterizes Francis. But instead, he finds he is taken very lightly, he is seen as overbearing and high-maintenance, he is blamed for being condescending and too self-absorbed, he’s not really let in on anything that’s happening in his brothers’ lives and none of them can stand even being in the same room with him for more than five minutes.
Although the story revolves around three brothers, Francis (Owen Wilson), Peter (Adrien Brody) and Jack Whitman (Jason Schwartzman), everything is mainly seen from Francis’ side. The short film opening The Darjeeling Limited, Hotel Chevalier, strikingly introduces Jack Whitman in a hotel in Paris. His ex-girlfriend (Natalie Portman) shows up unexpectedly and the two of them spend an evening of surreal and perhaps random line exchanging (depends on everyone’s idea of random). The next scene introduces Bill Murray in a taxi, being driven to the train station and then running to catch a train called The Darjeeling Limited which is already pulling out. As he runs, the second brother/runner, Peter Whitman, overtakes him in slow motion, holding a set of vintage Louis Vuitton luggage. He jumps onto the train and looks at Bill Murray giving up and missing his train, sympathetically, while This Time Tomorrow by The Kinks is playing in the background.
But although the first part spends a lot of time introducing the two brothers in two very identifiable scenes, and the impression is given that one of these guys (perhaps even Bill Murray) is going to be the centre of the story, everything falls right into place when the all-round bandaged-up head of Francis appears on screen a few moments later. Then the audience is left without a doubt: this guy is the main reason we’re here.
And from this moment on, a long and eventful trip across a colourful, hot and sandy India works as a remarkably effective backdrop for yet another one of Wes Anderson’s chronicles of despair, pain, rivalry, loneliness, need for love and acceptance, obsession and immaturity. The script co-write Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola and Jason Schwartzman, three writers who come up with great things individually, but who had to join forces for something as remarkable and intelligent as The Darjeeling Limited to happen. Each line is better than the one before and no matter how many times one watches this film, he still is not fully aware of the humour it encloses in its entirety.
And although Owen Wilson is absolutely brilliant as Francis and Jason Schwartzman perfect as Jack, they had both proven to us that they could do it, so we were expected nothing less. Schwartzman since Rushmore has shown everyone that he is very much needed in a Wes Anderson film if we want the motives of loneliness, fake cockiness and discomfort in one’s own skin to come across efficiently. And Wilson is Dignan, which says it all. Whoever knows (and worships) Bottle Rocket, acknowledges the genius of Owen Wilson and the scary potential of his comedic talent… However Adrien Brody was brand new information. Although extremely handsome and talented, such a late newcomer in the Wes Anderson church should have been easy to judge and hard for all dedicated believers to allow in. But Brody proved to belong there just as much as his two co-stars, which makes him cool beyond belief.
You guys didn’t do it right. I asked if you read the instructions. You did it wrong… I tried my hardest. I don’t know what to do. Francis Whitman
The Darjeeling Limited puts the three brothers through a few different life-changing moments, however their lives never really manage to change and their personalities keep getting caught in circles of annoyances, fights and little obsessions with the most meaningless — for some people — things. The beauty of the film that Wes Anderson delivers lies in the fact that its people refuse to grow up, not as an ideological stand or a way of life, but rather due to the fact that they’re lost inside that discernible loneliness which is found in the most-often-impossible-to-satisfy desire to be a part of something mystical, a spiritual journey, a revelation — aka a loving relationship or a united family.
The Darjeeling Limited at IMDb
The Darjeeling Limited at Rotten Tomatoes
The Darjeeling Limited at Wikipedia
The Darjeeling Limited (awards won and nominated for) at IMDb
Ben McLeod’s art on The Darjeeling Limited