March 26th, 2008

Slartibartfast

Darjeeling Limited, No Country for Old Men, Band's Visit

The Darjeeling LimitedThe Darjeeling Limited
Comedic drama about three American brothers (Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody and Jason Schwartzman) 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 to become brothers again like they used to be and also visiting their long lost mother (Anjelica Huston). Their "spiritual quest", however, veers rapidly off-course and they eventually find themselves stranded alone in the middle of the desert. At this moment, a new, unplanned journey suddenly begins.

I didn't really have plans to watch the latest movie from Wes Anderson at the theatre since it looked somewhat similar to his previous works The Royal Tenenbaums, Rushmore and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. Which I liked but when in doubt I prefer to watch something I haven't seen before. But when our local arthouse theatre decided to show a subtitled version I couldn't resist. And I'm glad I didn't since it put me into a melancholic yet wonderful mood.

The first pleasant surprise was that the movie started with the prologue in the form of the 10-minute short Hotel Chevalier (I wasn't sure if it would be shown) in which Schwartzman's character has a brief re-union in Paris with his former girl-friend (Natalie Portman with a boyish haircut. It's interesting to see how her hair starts to grow back with every role after she cut it all off for V for Vendetta).
The movie itself begins with Bill Murray as a businessman trying to catch a train in India which is filmed as a chase scene in heavy (Indian) traffic which provides a wonderful start for the main story.

The movie consists of the usual whimsical, somewhat sad characters that are all part of the typical Anderson universe, mostly played by members of the regular Anderson ensemble. New to the cast is Adrien Brody but with his sad face he fits in very well. The movie also has the typical composed scenes though Anderson's use of colour looks better placed in an India setting.
The brothers have a lot of baggage (literally as well as emotionally) but the tone of the movie seemed for the most part very consistent and I often felt strangely moved. The soundtrack certainly also played a role which consists of original music from old Indian movies as well as a few titles from the Kinks. And Owen Wilson's ability of telling made up stories with a straight, earnest face is just remarkable. And while the brothers have a lot of (family) problems most of it is told with the typical deadpan, slightly absurd humour.

So despite the fact that the movie gets weaker towards the end and I could've done without the part with Anjelica Huston it nevertheless put me in a good mood and I certainly don't regret watching it. If you don't like Anderson's style you won't like this one either. But if you're a fan of his work then I'd suggest you should watch this one too. And if you've never seen a movie from him this one is a good way to start.


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