A Brit Late: The Darjeeling Limited

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Original Release: 1 November 2007

Watched: 27 April 2009

The Darjeeling Limited was released in November 2007 and co-written and directed by Wes Anderson. The film tells the story of three estranged brothers Francis, Peter and Jack Whitman (played by Owen Wilson, Adrian Brody and Jason Schwartzman) who go on a spiritual journey through India together on the train The Darjeeling Limited, one year after the death of their father.

The acting in the film is top notch and not just from the main the cast Amara Karan and Waris Ahluwalia who play train assistants provide excellent comic foil for the main cast. The film features several appearances from regular Anderson alumni including cameos from Bill Murray and Angelica Huston as well as a few other recognisable faces. One critique that can be angled at the film however is that the main cast aren’t really pushed by the roles that they are in, and you’ve seen them in similar roles before. Schwartzman plays the confused intellect, much like the character he played in Rushmore. Owen Wilson plays the same character that he tends to play in every film and a similar thing can be said for Adrian Brody. Whilst the acting isn’t bad by any means, don’t watch the film expecting Oscar winning performances.

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If you’re a fan, or have seen any of Wes Anderson’s previous movies (Bottle Rocket, Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums) you’ll already know that he is a visually capable director, and his films whilst simplistic in their style are beautifully shot. The use of colour in his films is always strong and The Darjeeling Limited is no exception. Most of the film was shot on location in India and Anderson makes the already colourful country leap off the screen and by contrasting the bright, primary colours of India with the dark coloured suits of the main characters, creating an interesting character of the country itself. Whilst his style of shooting is simple, it works well the story he is trying to tell, quite often the camera won’t move whilst the characters move into and out of shot as they are talking, or the camera will seemingly move through walls as it follows several characters in conversation.

The films soundtrack is the typically eclectic mix that Wes Anderson featuring songs by The Kinks and The Rolling Stones as well as a traditional Indian score composed by Bengali composer Satyajit Ray, a departure for Anderson who usually uses Mark Mothersbaugh to score his films, although given the setting of the film Satyajit fits well and his songs add another layer to the character and background of India that Anderson builds up throughout the course of the movie.

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I would highly recommend The Darjeeling Limited to any fans of Wes Anderson and indeed any of the cast. Whilst I wouldn’t expect you to find anything new and it does feel at times Anderson is now merely imitating his earlier films, it’s an enjoyable way to spend an evening. The film won’t win you over if you’re not already a fan of Anderson unique style and if this is the first of Andersons films you’re checking out, I would advise watching The Royal Tenenbaums whilst it isn’t a better film but is thematically similar and with a larger, more recognisable cast will give you a good idea if you’ll like the humour and style Wes Anderson puts into his films.

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