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The Darjeeling Limited

The Train to Nowhere

When this train pulls into the station, you may not want to board. One of the more anticipated films of the year, The Darjeeling Limited is just that -- limited. The movie is a disappointing road trip flick in which three spoiled, clueless, sorry saps travel by train through India while trying to absorb its "spiritual essence" via osmosis.

After he experiences a near death accident, the eldest of three brothers, Francis (Owen Wilson), organizes a spiritual journey through India's North East with his reluctant siblings, Peter (Adrien Brody) and Jack (Jason Schwartzman). It's been a year since the tragic death of their father (and longer since they've seen their itinerant mother) and they have drifted apart. Hoping for a bonding experience, as outlined on their laminated itineraries, they take off on a mysterious journey aboard the Darjeeling Limited.

The movie is split into two parts -- the first being a 12-minute short entitled "Hotel Chevalier" starring Natalie Portman as Jack's horrid, stalker-like ex-girlfriend, which serves as a prequel, and part 2, The Darjeeling Limited. Although watching part 1 is not essential to understanding what happens in the second part, it does give a little back story. And director/writer Wes Anderson has specifically stated that he sees the two films as a whole and that they should be viewed together. This may just be an indulgence on the director's part as the prequel doesn't play that important a role.

Nonetheless, the beauty of a Wes Anderson film lays in the details and the camerawork; here it can be found in the sweeping shots, the strange and quirky characters, the tight angles, the misuse of Indian pharmaceuticals, the lush, eye-popping color palette and the trinkets and artwork inserted into the sets decorating them like Christmas trees. One thing's for sure: he knows how to construct a scene. Unfortunately, other than that, there's not much to this film. Directed by Anderson and written by himself and Roman Coppola, The Darjeeling Limited is like a very striking, sophisticated model who's completely hollow and dead inside.

By now, audiences and fans of Anderson's style, as seen in his films Bottle Rocket, Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums, are familiar with his work. But the director seems to be stuck in a rut; it's time to break free and try something different. Or at least expand upon the old formula. But that doesn’t happen here. The Darjeeling Limited is full of the same old shtick, and it gets old fast.

Nothing here is anything you haven't seen before but with better results. The actors come off as whiny rather than witty, the writing is dull and the hijinks are minimally interesting. The only thing going for The Darjeeling Limited is the direction, if that. What the movie essentially does is objectify a foreign culture and religion and go on way too long while doing it.

Rating: 2.75 out of 5 stars


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