The Darjeeling Limited (2007) directed by the famous Wes Anderson known for his idiosyncratic characters, bright colors and symmetrical shot composition the film delivers on all counts. The film follows three brothers played by Owen Wilson, Jason Schwartzman, and Adrian Brody on a train journey across India. The brothers have not spoke to one another in a year since the funeral of their father. Ever since they have all been lost in their own ways. The picture is a beautiful story of coming together and emotional healing.
As with any of Anderson’s work the film is highly stylized, it is like candy for your eyes. Each shot is like a photograph meticulously composed. There are also enumerable dolly and panning shots something else he is renown for. The coverage and variety Anderson achieves in such a claustrophobic and potentially boring setting as a train is remarkable. The cramped, busy, and bright feel of India is captured splendidly. Anderson and his writing partner Roman Coppola actually traveled across India for months while writing the film and it clearly comes through in the entire visual style of the film.
What makes any Wes Anderson film enjoyable is always the eclectic characters he creates. Their bizarre habits and upbringings never fail to create individuals viewers can empathize with. The three brothers in the film are all emotionally lost since the death of their father. They hold onto various items that used to belong to their father as a way of holding on. One significant group of items is the fathers Louis Vuitton luggage. The luggage serves as a symbol for the actual emotional baggage the three men are carrying around. They are damaged goods and cannot let go of the past. In the final scene of the film after the spiritual journey is complete, and the brothers have come together once again, they run to catch a train and must abandon bags in order to run fast enough and climb aboard. It is a symbolic moment a bit on the cheesy side, but it doesn’t come across as such.
There is another moment midway though the film in which Francis the oldest brother Played by Owen Wilson removes his bandages from a car accident for the first time. Underneath he is still cut up and bruised, and he then delivers the line “I guess I still have some healing to do.” The comment has a double meaning, Francis obviously still needs to do some physical healing, but more importantly he needs emotional healing. Anderson treks the fine line between corny and sweet perfectly and never steps over.
Anderson is an anomaly in today’s American film scene, he makes films that look “different” and are charmingly quirky. His films are often criticized for being overly stylized and gimmicky, but that is what makes him unique. He has yet to create a truly great work, but that isn’t to minimize what he has created. His movies make you smile, laugh, and cry in the best possible way.