Family members are rarely ever the same, especially brothers and sisters. Wes Anderson knows this well as seen in The Royal Tenenbaums and we get to see three brothers struggling together once more in The Darjeeling Limited, which pushes us onto a claustrophobic train with the three brothers on a journey through India.
The three brothers are brought together thanks to Francis Whitman (Owen Wilson). He had a bit of a bad accident leaving him with bandages all over his face and through that moment he felt he needed to connect with his two brothers. He wants to make the trip perfect and even hires a guy to make lamented task sheets. Peter (Adrian Brody) and Jack (Jason Schwartzman) are the two brothers pulled into this Indian adventure and the three are as different as can be. Peter is using his late father’s possessions as his own, including some glasses of the wrong prescription and Jack doesn’t want anything to do with this, most of his interest comes from the stewardess on the train. The three bicker and argue and only Francis seems to want them together. He has an ultimate motive though of the three uniting and bonding to meet their Mother who is lurking somewhere in the country. The story is a tale of the inner mind of these brothers and how they overcome their insecurities and problems within.
The train is the main location for the first part of the film with the occasional stop. A confined place which is a metaphor for the three brothers situation and the colourful dressing of the train is full of life and character. It feels like a travelling home with all the clutter lying about and seeing characters through little train windows is like getting a small peek at people’s lives, like how I used to look at flat windows across from me last year. This idea of different compartments and different lives is used to magnificent effect later in the film showing different characters situations. It may be a little quirky in the way the film is set out, but beautifully so. The location outside of the train brings some added character and freshness to Wes Anderson’s usual American settings, it feels like the viewer to is going on the journey of enlightenment. .
The dry dark humour expected of Wes Anderson is present, though perhaps too similar to ideas he’s used of old. While the setting is different, the story feels familiar and as constricted as the characters involved in the film. A case of seen it all before which makes me feel less fond of it as other films I’ve seen of his. Not to say it is a bad film, I found it to be great. I took the repeated themes and characters (I felt always using the same cast can have its negatives here though it is nice to see them and the Bill Murray cameo) like greeting the family, familiar but comfortable and warm. The setting was fresh and the music was fantastic, plus the bond between the characters was always entertaining. The themes I’ve always found interesting in Wes’s films and I’m no less uninterested here. It was just a slight sensation that maybe he could push further a little more. Drop some baggage.