Sunday, March 2, 2008

The Darjeeling Limited

The Tracks of My Tears

Wes Anderson is one of those directors who can be really "on" or really "off." Sometimes his movies are merely mordant exercises in quirk, much ado about neurotics. Nothing happens, but people are in a dither for a couple hours. But "The Darjeeling Limited" is a solid movie that stays on the tracks, if not the beaten path, for its entire length. Oh, people are dithering, alright--there's an especially screwball flashback sequence where the Whitman Brothers (Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody and Jason Schwartzman) are on their way to their father's funeral, and stop off at the garage where Dad was getting his car fixed. The sequence is intricately thought out and such a brilliant example of people desperately finding temporary solutions for long-term problems that one might recall similar family clusters in their own life.

But "The Darjeeling Express" is about a close-knit family that's come unravelled-- well, exploded in selfishness and separation--and is brought together by the control freak of the bunch (raising suspicion and defensiveness) to take a train trip across India, ostensibly to find their mother, but ultimately to find themselves. Or each other. Or to find a way to work together, rather than cross-purposes (in frequently hilarious ways). What could have been eye-rollingly heart-warming (ala "Little Miss Sunshine") becomes intriguing and dramatically interesting, with good performances by the Anderson stock company (Anjelica Huston, Wilson, Schwartzman, and Bill Murray in a cameo), but also Adrien Brody who steps seamlessly into Anderson's off-axis world of vacant stares, and pregnant pauses.

"The Darjeeling Express" is a Full-Price Ticket.

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