Saturday, November 08, 2008

The Darjeeling Limited (2007)

Somehow I got the impression that this latest outing by Wes Anderson and company wasn’t much fun, so I didn’t come into it with high hopes. Maybe this film just looks better in an atmosphere of low expectations, but I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised. This is no “Bottle Rocket” or “Rushmore,” but “The Darjeeling Limited” has a charm of its own for those who enjoy Wes Anderson’s talky, thoughtful style. For everyone else, Natalie Portman gets naked.

The story follows the Whitman brothers (Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, and Jason Schwartzman), an emotionally stunted trio who join up for a train trip across India in order to reconnect, deal with their dad’s death, and find their mom. The trip doesn’t turn out as planned, but as often happens in life, the journey itself winds up having value.

This film was way more fun than I expected. Besides the naked Portman (in a short film called “Hotel Chevalier,” intended as a prelude to the movie on the DVD), there is a lot of understated humor and just some good acting. Owen Wilson overdoes it a bit, and really just plays his character from “Bottle Rocket,” but Adrien Brody makes up for that. I wouldn’t rank “The Darjeeling Limited” up there with “Rushmore,” which represents the height of Wes Anderson’s work thus far, but it’s clearly better than “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.”

3 stars

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