What I Watched: The Darjeeling Limited
My appreciation for this film grows every single time I see it. The script is so, so good and relatively simple when you think about it. Each character has basically one piece of personal baggage (*wink*) that they bring to the table, as well as the collective family issues of recovering from their father’s death as well as their abandonment by their mother that they’re all coping with. The narrative isn’t that intricate, but the emotional tapestry in the film is.
The script is an incredible balance between gut busting humor and very stark, unsettling tragedy, sometimes transitioning between the two within just a few moments (like the scene when Francis says “Look at these assholes”, immediately followed by the raft rescue and ultimately Peter walking around dazed with the small Indian boy in his arms saying “He’s dead, he’s dead”).
Its sumptuously shot, heartbreakingly tender, and it feels less “high concept” than a lot of his other films. With the exception of the phenomenally expressionistic train dolly shot cum character montage set to “Play With Fire”, the film feels slightly pared down. There aren’t a lot of stylistic flourishes typical of many Wes Anderson’s recent films: stop motion animation, intricate set pieces, huge props. It’s smaller and more intimate,choosing to focus on the claustrophobia and alienation of the Whitman brothers, three men lost in a strange land and lost in their own lives.