Wes Anderson’s latest is pretty decent if you like Wes Anderson-isms. Y’know, stuff like his personal music collection as the soundtrack, tonal shifts from comic to tragic at the drop of a meticulously patterned handbag, quirkiness up the wazoo, expensive herbal tea and a refreshing penchant for the color yellow. The Darjeeling Limited is no Bottle Rocket or Royal Tenenbaums but it’s better than the ultra-indulgent The Life Aquatic, and it reunites Anderson with the exceptionally hirsute Jason Schwartzmann, whose Velcro ass has only graced the screen in the most forgettable fluff like Bewitched and I <3 Huckabees.
Starring Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody and Jason as three estranged brothers, the story follows their reunion on a train trip across India. …And that’s it really!
It’s a slow, quiet character road trip with nothing but dialogue in exotic locations. The brothers are damaged, depressed people carrying a lot of baggage, literally and metaphorically and the movie takes great slow-motion pains to point that out. They also can’t trust anyone, even each other, so they fill their voids with cough medicine and pain killers and smoke and smoke and smoke. And Jason sleeps around, astounding given his nigh-comatose demeanor and math teacher mustache. Owen Wilson sports head bandages the whole time and obsessively orders everyone around, while Adrien Brody sorta floats around looking like he’s having the worst day of his life. And this is the first time I actually liked him in a movie. The best part of Darjeeling, besides the bone-dry humor, is definitely how good it looks. The colors are rich and vibrant and the Indian countryside looks beautiful.
And that’s that! There are worse ways to spend 91 minutes, and it is a charming 91 minutes, but it’d be nice if Anderson explored other narrative possibilities besides the faults and miseries of weird rich people. Maybe it was voluntary but the brothers’ last name is Whitman. These characters are rich, spoiled brats who realize late in life that it’s not all going to be caviar and Porsche cruisers, that successful relationships are often tantamount to true happiness. Which is nice and fuzzy to say but c’mon, these guys wear $6000 belts and $3000 loafers, this is so high upper class it’s in the troposphere rich whiteness, and they’re having their selfish existential crises in one of the poorest areas of the world. Wait a second, whiteness? White. Whitman… Whiteman…