A2P Cinema 100 Films of the Aughts
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THE DARJEELING LIMITED
2007 - Wes Anderson - United States
64

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One of the great things about Wes Anderson is that he finds a way to be fresh even though he often reuses his trademark style and themes. With his fifth feature, The Darjeeling Limited, this is especially true as it feels fresh despite all the usual Anderson trademarks and style. Even more so is that this film is essentially a reflection of his entire work, one that may be the definitive essence of his filmography to date. To me The Darjeeling Limited his Anderson's best film or at least in the same class of his best film (1998's Rushmore). One of Anderson's great skills of characterization is his handling of family. Through terrific performances each of these three brothers are perfectly defined. Francis (Owen Wilson who is especially good in the best performance of his career) is the eldest brother who is always controlling things; Peter (Adrien Brody) the middle child anxious to prove his self-reliance; and Jack (Jason Schwartzman) the sensitive youngest who always tries to keep the calmness and harmony. As their "spiritual journey" goes along it is easy to imagine them as brothers. Anderson presents India and its spiritual and cultural surroundings soley through the perspective of these self-absorbed rich Americans. They are so self-consumed with their own inescapable motives of "finding themselves" that the cultural world around them becomes non-existent. Aiding in the other-worldliness of the India in this film is Anderson's trademark richly textured and colored production design. The Darjeeling Limited is a film of many metaphors (the train, the bandages, the luggage) but this film doesn't fall into the contrived traps or cheap tricks a lesser film might. Essentially the brothers are seeking love and healing (both emotionally and spiritually), but they are unaware of the path to acquire it. It is when they stop thinking about themselves (such as when they try to rescue the kids in the river) that the healing begins. Their pain (notably the relationship with their dead father and the mother, expertly played by Anjelica Huston, who left them) is deeper then the surface- as expressed in Francis removing his bandages. But the journey toward healing has begun and a new journey toward healing and love emerges when they decide to finally leave their material baggage behind. This one is a treat. The Darjeeling Limited is a hilarious, beautifully detailed, and refreshingly playful mix of sadness and sweetness.
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