Sunday, November 11, 2007

the darjeeling limited

can a movie be too quirky? put your answer to the test by seeing wes anderson's the darjeeling limited.

three brothers (owen wilson, adrien brody, + jason schwartzman) reunite in india after a year's separation, following the death of their father.

the three brothers are goofs. the eldest (wilson), recovering from an automobile accident, pursues an obscure agenda that involves spiritual self-discovery by visiting indian holy sites, a quest he pursues crassly like a nazi tour director.

the middle brother (brody) is all nerves because his wife is about to have a baby, a family addition that was not part of his original plan for the marriage.

the youngest (schwartzman) is in the thrall of a beautiful woman (natalie portman), who is apparently stringing him along for the simple perverse amusement such sadism gives her.

then there's india--always colorful + corny +, as one character puts it, 'spicy.'

i liked the movie well enough. at no point before the end did i want to leave the theater. but i was glad when it was over, + i didn't feel my outlook of life + the world was any different going out of the theater than it was going in. i didn't feel entertained or educated. i chuckled once or twice ... but i'm not sure why.

throughout the movie wilson is wrapped in bandages + looks a bit dented + crazed, which, given the actor's subsequent suicide attempt, is difficult not to read as a darker metaphor than this light, dry comedy probably intends.

brody seems narcissistic, floundering for a character of his own (perhaps an intentional commentary on middle-child syndrome).

schwartzman is engaging + recklessly sweet, especially in his loony pursuit of an indian train stewardess, who, like his other romantic fixation, apparently needs him only to work out her own set of emotional problems.

this movie is much like wes anderson's previous film the royal tanenbaums, about enormously wealthy, highly intelligent siblings who feel unloved and incapable of trust. it's not as good as rushmore or the life aquatic with steve zissou. the sense of whimsy anderson strives for wears thin fairly quickly, but i didn't feel that it ever wore out. the film has its moments--it comes close to being lovable at times, but, for me, the connection never happens.

it's a movie about trust, but its shambling tone makes it difficult to have much confidence that anderson (our tour guide) knows or even cares where he's taking us.

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