Thursday, March 27, 2008

Week 40: The Darjeeling Limited

I’ve been hanging onto the Darjeeling Limited as a little jewel in my Netflix Queue, saving it for just the right moment. You see, I love me some Wes Anderson. I would watch him direct traffic. But the Darjeeling Limited is…well…it’s a turd, Wes. It’s a turd.

Believe me when I say this makes me very sad. This isn’t like discovering that Mariah Carey’s Glitter was a turd, which is the least surprising discovery of all time. Anyway, Darjeeling had all the elements that make a Wes Anderson film great: quirky characters, whimsical charm, melancholy plot, cool soundtrack, Bill Murray (just barely), a Wilson brother…

But it just didn’t work.

And I think I know why. At no point in the film was I unaware that I was watching Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody and Jason Schwartzman pretending to be brothers. This for me was like watching a stage play – you’re never unaware that you’re watching actors acting. Sure, they had good chemistry, there were sweet, touching and funny moments, but for me the movie was an exercise in self-indulgence on the part of the director and actors. Everything about Darjeeling was just a little too artificial, with the exception of the setting itself, India, which is sort of the star of the film.

Maybe one of the things I love about a great Wes Anderson film is that I usually fall in love with the characters, and I only fell in like with the brothers of Darjeeling.

Another note about the DVD: it contains a short film called Hotel Chevalier, which is billed as “Part 1 of the Darjeeling Limited”. Hotel Chevalier wasn’t played in theaters: this was an extra created for the DVD.

We were confused about whether or not to watch it first – would it ruin the film or give us information that we couldn’t live without? We decided to watch it first and I wish we hadn’t. It would have been much sweeter to see this little slice of backstory after viewing the film.

My disappointments with The Darjeeling Limited continue to mount.


Anonymous said...

We saw the Darjeeling Limited in the theater and they did show Part I first. It was slightly confusing.

Motely Queue said...

Sorry for the mis-info. I read online that they never showed it in the theaters; guess I was wrong. What was your take on the movie overall? It was a miss for me but I'm curious to know if others liked it.

Elspeth said...

I love anjelica huston!

Greg said...

Hotel Chevalier was also shown before the movie when I saw it...but that was in a theater in Osaka, so I've no idea if this was normal in the US or not.

I can see where you're coming from. it's mainly a light film, almost like a vanity project. I never felt like I was watching anything more than Anderson following the three actors around India, either, but I can't tell if that's because of the movie itself or just my own expectations about "going to see the new Wes Anderson movie."

Still, it was enjoyable to watch. It doesn't match The Life Aquatic, but I'd probably put it above my first viewing of The Royal Tenenbaums.