A year after their father’s funeral, three brothers travel across India by train in an attempt to bond with each other.
The Darjeeling Limited is a return to form for Wes Anderson, after the extremely poor ‘The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou’, and it manages to channel the dysfunction of family almost as well as ‘The Royal Tenenbaums’ did. It starts off with a basic premise, three brothers who haven’t seen each other since their father’s funeral reunite on a luxury train to travel across India. The brothers are played by Anderson regulars Owen Wilson, Jason Schwartzman and newcomer Adrien Brody, and the actors are all well cast and play nicely off one another. It’s clear from the early stages that the brothers have little in common and have certainly drifted apart over the years, and this adds a little tension when they try to settle back into old routines. Francis (Wilson) has planned the trip, pitching it as a journey of spiritual discovery, and his controlling nature starts to rub his brothers up the wrong way.
We start to learn a lot about the brothers and their lives as they start to open up to one another, and this is arguably Anderson’s most successful film yet on a purely emotional level. Each of the characters has suffered problems in their lives, and the sentimentality feels real, and not just another of Anderson’s carefully constructed creations. Of course, Anderson’s visual flourishes are still here, and India is a wonderful country for his direction to turn too, but this is his most unfussy film yet, and the film benefits from this immensely.
I’m a sucker for a good road movie, and perhaps this is why I enjoyed this so much, and enjoyed watching the characters gradually come out from within themselves and open up, and ultimately benefit from it. It’s not without its flaws but this is a warm, engaging, funny film and it’s one of Anderson’s best thus far. Fantastic Mr Fox up next, which is the only Anderson film I’ve yet to see, and interestingly his only film not based entirely on his own work.
Directed By: Wes Anderson
Starring: Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, Jason Schwartzman and Anjelica Huston