Written By Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola, and Jason Schwartzman
Directed by Wes Anderson (2007)
Starring: Adrien Brody, Jason Schwartzman, Owen Wilson, Amara Karan, Anjelica Huston
When I think about The Darjeeling Limited almost two weeks after watching it, I mostly come back to the smaller moments. How well-used The Kinks’ “This Time Tomorrow” is as they run for their train, the loving look Adrien Brody gives to his newly-purchased cobra, the fascinating movements in and around the train car. And I keep thinking to myself “Well, maybe it’s all of these smaller moments that I like about the movie, instead of the film as a whole.”
Then I think about the weird motifs and themes: The white people coming to India expecting sudden spirituality, only spending their time getting high. The year of mourning they take after their father’s death, but denial of their reactions on the way to the funeral. Actually, it seems like it’s an entire movie based off of denial of emotions: Peter (Brody) doesn’t want to acknowledge whatever fatherly affection he has for his unborn child, but is automatically devoted to his new pet. Peter (Schwartzman) is obsessed with his ex-girlfriend, but approaches all love and romance coldly, then turns these dramatic life moments into short stories. I can’t even figure out what’s going on with Owen Wilson’s character at first blush. Just that it was similar to his own life.
The movie is appreciative that making planned vacations is idiotic at best, although that’s putting it simply. Francis pulling out a very exact schedule as compiled by his assistant Brendan (Wallace Wolodarsky) for his brothers to find spiritual enlightenment is hilarious. The turning point comes when they get kicked off of the train and experience real India through a terrible river accident. When facing death again, the movie shifts to the day of their father’s funeral which adds a lot of depth to the zany selfishness of the characters previously. Instead of being a lark about American idiots using a saintly stereotype of India to excuse their own bad habits, the movie is about three flawed people who are in the middle of mourning.