Monday, April 18, 2011

Movie of the Week - The Darjeeling Limited

This week’s movie is The Darjeeling Limited (2007).

The comedy is about three brothers who have grown apart. They meet up on a train to take a spiritual quest across India with the hopes to find themselves and reignite their bond as brothers. The short film Hotel Chevalier is part 1 (and included on the DVD release) about Jack’s, one of the brothers, meeting in Paris with his ex-girlfriend, a relationship that had been painful and destructive. The short and feature film are both directed and written by Wes Anderson (the feature is also co-written by Jason Schwartzman and Roman Coppola). On the film, Anderson again works with cinematographer Robert D. Yeoman and production designer Mark Friedberg (who also did The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou). In addition to his typical use of rock/pop from the 60s and 70s for the score, Anderson also takes a lot of pieces from the Merchant-Ivory films (which inspired this film). The cast mixes frequent Anderson cast members like Owen Wilson, Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray (who has an awesome cameo during the prologue), Wallace Wolodarsky, Waris Ahluwalia, Kumar Pallana, and Anjelica Huston with great new ones like Adrien Brody, Amara Karan, Irrfan Khan, Barbet Schroeder, Camilla Rutherford, and Natalie Portman (who has a cameo, but co-stars in the short). What makes the film great is the artistic style of it – Anderson’s camera and blocking act as a character in the narrative, adding comedy and drama to the piece. The film is very quirky, but even with eccentric and odd characters the narrative feels very honest and connects to its viewers. Wilson’s performance in particular is very good (maybe the best of his career). Stylistically and character wise, the film fits Anderson’s body of work – but a bit like The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, there is more of an edge to the characters. It is a must for fans of Anderson’s films (it is probably my second favorite after Rushmore), and those who enjoy quirky comedies and/or highly stylistic filmmaking. Check out the trailer.

Available on Criterion Collection Blu-ray, DVD and to rent

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