Thursday, November 8, 2007

Thank you India

Image courtesy of Fox Searchlight

Last night Shannon and I hit up a quaint little Japanese restaurant for dinner (sans Sapporos, as this particular place did not have a liquor licence, much to our dismay). Then we headed off to the Fifth Avenue Cinema to catch a showing of The Darjeeling Limited. We had both been wanting to see this film for a while, having heard good reviews and being fans of Wes Anderson's work (Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, Life Aquatic). What I love about Anderson's comedies is that they are perennially tinged with melancholy and dysfunction but also wrought with humour, and my favourite kind of humour to boot.

Reading the synopsis of this film intrigued me further:
"Three American brothers who have not spoken to each other in a year set off on a train voyage across India with a plan to find themselves and bond with each other -- to become brothers again like they used to be. Their "spiritual quest", however, veers rapidly off-course (due to events involving over-the-counter pain killers, Indian cough syrup, and pepper spray), and they eventually find themselves stranded alone in the middle of the desert with eleven suitcases, a printer, and a laminating machine. At this moment, a new, unplanned journey suddenly begins."

Source: IMDb

Add to that the fact that it's starring three of my favourite actors: Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, and Jason Schwartzman and it seemed to be a masterpiece waiting to happen. Thankfully, the film did not disappoint. It is clever, well written and those three boys play off each other in perfect harmony. Adrien Brody's character Peter, is by far my favourite. Every character is very real though: fascinating, absurd, pathetic and majestic, all at the same time.

I find all of Anderson's movies to be highly stylized, with amazing slow motion sequences, wide lenses that slightly distort the frame, and quirky, depressed characters with family issues all thrown together in a timeless, carefully detailed environment. Darjeeling was no exception. The film is engaging from the very beginning with a hilarious and memorable cameo by another of my faves, Bill Murray, trying to catch the Darjeeling Limited train in slow motion. Anjelica Huston's role as the boys' mother is notably brilliant as well.
A side note: the beautiful costumes and luggage in the film were created by Marc Jacobs for Louis Vuitton. An interesting article about the style in this film is here. FYI, the soundtrack also seriously rocks.

I should mention as well, that I highly recommend viewing Hotel Chevalier, a 13 minute short film directed by Anderson and starring Jason Schwartzman, available for free download online through itunes. They showed it last night as a prequel to the film. In this short, Schwartzman plays the same character that he plays in The Darjeeling Limited. Also starring is Natalie Portman as Jack's ex-girlfriend, who makes a brief cameo in the feature film as well. The short film helps establish Schwartzman's character, and provides clues on certain details of The Darjeeling Limited.

The emotional experience that is The Darjeeling Limited is a must see for any fans of Anderson's work. He explores facets of personalities that most never really give much consideration. Watching these three brothers on their journey to no particular salvation is an absolute pleasure.


Anonymous said...

I just loved this movie too. Anderson is a genius, without a doubt. Rushmore is still number one in my heart though this is a close second.

Shando said...

You somehow feel like an alcholic when asking for a beer at a place that is not licensed. Oh well. I loved Adrian Brody's character in this movie.