Advertise - Print Edition

Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

A spiritual journey transcends the screen

Published: November 16, 2007
Section: Arts, Etc.

If you had not spoken to your siblings in a year, how would you fix the situation?

According to Wes Anderson, you achieve this with loads of money, Louis Vuitton suitcases, a laminating machine, and a spiritual journey though India.

The Darjeeling Limited tells the story of the three estranged Whitman brothers, who come together not only to renew their relationship with each other, but also to find answers to their own questions.

Each is struggling to deal with his own emotional crisis. Jack (played by Jason Schwartzman) is still reeling from a rendezvous with his ex-girlfriend two weeks ago. Peter (played by Adrien Brody) is trying to prepare himself for the prospect of oncoming fatherhood. The mastermind of the trip, Francis (played by Owen Wilson) is still healing, both emotionally and physically, from a car accident, which sent him flying into the side of a mountain.

The movie is preceded by the short film, The Hotel Chevalier, which takes place two weeks before the Whitman brothers embark on their journey. It shows the encounter between Jack , who is holed up in a hotel in Paris when his ex-girlfriend ( played by Natalie Portman) comes to visit.

The dialogue is more than enough reason to enjoy this short. Originally, Anderson wanted this to be its own film, but that hope never came to be. The chemistry between Portman and Schwartzman is undeniable and yes, there is a more-or-less nude scene featuring Portman.

Once the short film ends, the audience is thrown into a world of spectacular color. Anderson artfully creates his scenes, perfectly mixing color with culture and music with mood. The film feels complete. All aspects are included from the dialogue to the storyline to the acting, and so on.

I am not usually a huge fan of Anderson's movies. As much as I wanted to love The Royal Tenenbaums, I found the film confusing and could not relate to any of the characters. Although I cannot necessarily relate to the Whitman brothers, I still understand their situation and agree with many of the themes of the movie.

The fact that the brothers were free from any monetary concerns was incredibly necessary. They seemed not even to notice that money existed in the world. It was actually refreshing to see possessions mean nothing to a group of characters. Not to say that the Whitman brothers are greatly different from Andersons other characters, but it was still refreshing and I definitely found myself wishing I could live a life without things.

The soundtrack for The Darjeeling Limited is amazing as well. Anderson decided not to have an original score made for the film, and instead pulled from various Indian films as well as throwing in a few Kinks songs, classical pieces, and a Rolling Stones tune in too. The soundtrack is a very satisfactory companion to the film.

All in all the film is fantastic. It manages to deftly balance the serious with the hilarious, the truly tragic with the enormously uplifting.