| The Red Right Hand
THE DARJEELING LIMITED
Wes Anderson's latest attempt to depict dysfunctional families is a fresh, original and personal tale of discovery - some of his stronger points. The simple plot can be broken down as follows: three brothers, Francis [Wilson], Peter [Brody] and Jack [Schwartzman] havenít spoken to each other since their father's funeral, one year ago. On a seemingly random spur of the moment decision, Francis has gathered his siblings in India for a 'spiritual journey', the true meaning of which is revealed later. Behind the plot is an overwhelming litter of metaphors, as the three siblings are burdened by their father's baggage (literal and metaphysical), their constant intake of various pain medications to extricate themselves from their various responsibilities, the train they are travelling on losing itself and the discovery that a spiritual journey has nothing to do with a laminated itinerary or even the final destination. As the eldest of three brothers who rarely see each other, I deeply empathised with these characters and what they were trying to achieve.
One of the key elements to the grand success of this piece is the dynamic between three distinctly different actors. On hearing the cast line-up, I could not envision how descendents of Hungarian, Italian and Irish families could possibly pull off brothers but for ninety one minutes I was utterly convinced that this was a truly American family. Other than the dynamic and Anderson's usual directorial excellence, I believe the script brings out a part of each actor that we regularly see and miraculously projects it as something new. The most impressive being Owen Wilson; I canít stand the man yet in this role, stripped of his justified-confidence, bumbling womanising and goofy lines it felt as if he were a different person. The best way to describe the dynamic would be to highlight two or three scenes that were intensely and intelligently funny. The first is a simple, possibly one minute long, skit in which Owen Wilson has one of his $6000 loafers stolen, the second is after a previously purchased poisonous snake escapes and a boyish, brawling showdown between the three which comes to a head as Jason Schwartzman screams, "I love you too but I'm gonna mace you in the face!"
In his usual way, Anderson has opted for very wide-angle lenses that almost distort the images shown; yet somehow, as each set is carefully laid out, manages to create artworks within every shot. In my opinion, one thing that aids the family feeling of the film is nature of the written script. Initially I poked fun at Jason Schwartzmanís writing collaboration, stating that he wrong the opening vignette where he gets to act with Natalie Portman naked but I later realised that even the script is family-orientated/: Wes Anderson has a history of family focused film making and Roman Coppola (Francis Ford Coppola's son) is Jason Schwartzman's cousin. Of course, it may have nothing to do with it... but I like to think it does. In summation, it's no secret that four years ago I was a little unimpressed with The Life Aquatic. I found it a little too giddy and the comedy slightly forced. It was still greatly entertaining but far from brilliant. The Darjeeling Limited, on the other hand, is a raging triumph and glorious success and one of Anderson's best.
23rd November 2007
The Scene To Look Out For:
Two scenes for you, one mentioned earlier, which is the thirteen minute short vignette at the start. I must admit, it felt odd and out-of-place but by the end of the film, I was glad it had been included. I will say nothing more on that. Secondly, whilst in India the three brothers attempt to save the lives of three drowning boys. Unfortunately one dies and they find themselves attending his funeral. This invokes a flashback scene to their father's funeral - a point which was briefly touched upon in the outlines of Jack's short story.
Despite my dislike for his usual repressed-geek roles and noting the height difference between him and his fellow actors (even between him and Natalie Portman; I've met her, she's pretty small), Jason Schwartzman was by far the deepest and most interesting character. His mannerisms were interesting, his lines well-crafted and acting uniquely impressive. There is, of course, the possibility that or the constant presence of his bare feet. That's right, throughout the film he wears neither shoes nor socks or sandals; just his grubby little feet.
"I wonder if the three of us would have been friends in real life; not as brothers, but as people"
In A Few Words:
"The perfect Wes Anderson comedy"