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The Darjeeling Limited
4/5
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir Wes Anderson
scr Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola, Jason Schwartzman
with Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, Jason Schwartzman, Amara Karan, Wally Wolodarsky, Waris Ahluwalia, Camilla Rutherford, Irfan Khan, Anjelica Huston, Barbet Schroeder, Natalie Portman, Bill Murray
release US 29.Sep.07,
UK 23.Nov.07
07/US Fox 1h31
The Darjeeling Limited
In trouble now: Ahluwalia, Wilson, Brody and Schwartzman

huston portman murray

VENICE FILM FEST
london film fest

The Darjeeling Limited Bristling with nervous energy and quirky characters, Anderson continues his exploration of the ties that bind families while also offering a wonderfully colourful travelogue through India. It's entertaining and engaging, and also deliberately strange.

Francis Whitman (Wilson) has called his two brothers Peter (Brody) and Jack (Schwartzman) to join him on the Darjeeling Limited, an Orient Express-type train ride across India. The brothers haven't seen each other since their father's funeral a year ago, and they're a bundle of secrets and mistrust that boil over to cause problems on the train and at each stop. They're trying to find a spiritual peace between them. But Peter and Jack don't realise that Francis has a very specific destination up his sleeve: reuniting with their mother (Huston), who has joined a Himalayan convent.

Anderson's playful filmmaking approach works extremely well in the chaotic settings in India; the urban bustle, rural eccentricities, natural beauty and even the enclosed world of the train come to life distinctly. And the characters are even more vivid than the settings. Each brother is a bundle of unexplained tics that add to this riot of textures. Like Anderson's previous films, the central characters are the idle rich, with so much money that they don't need to work, and really don't know how to live either.

The cast is terrific, giving dead-pan performances that are underscored with real warmth and emotion. This trio carries with them far too much baggage, literally and figuratively. But we connect strongly with each of them, even if we never quite understand their personal obsessions. That the actors accomplish this even with their jokey appearance (Brody's see-no-evil eyewear, Schwartzman's speak-no-evil moustache, Wilson's hear-no-evil bandages) is no small achievement. And the side characters also register strongly.

There's so much going on in this film that it's almost distracting. But it's absolutely hilarious from start to finish, and Anderson manages to create a realistic rhythm of offhanded interaction between the brothers. Along the way there are some wacky adventures, a moving tragedy and a frankly inexplicable flashback. But the film's final scenes are clever and funny, and challenge us to accept the fact that we're all in the process of healing.

Hotel Chevalier HOTEL CHEVALIER
dir-scr Wes Anderson
with Jason Schwartzman, Natalie Portman
05/US 13m
4/5
This witty short film offers a prologue to The Darjeeling Limited, providing a vivid back-story for Schwartzman's character. It's also an nearly perfect film on its own, catching the emotions and attraction that linger after a break-up. Here, Jack Whitman (Schwartzman) is sitting in a Paris hotel room when he gets a phone call from the girlfriend (Portman) he left several months earlier. When she arrives at the room, they engage in a sort of port-mortem on their relationship while at the same time rediscovering their passion. It's sharply written and played, a marvellously contained comedy, romance and drama that raises as many questions as it answers while offering us two extremely vivid, identifiable characters.

cert 15 themes, language, violence 26.Sep.07

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
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2007 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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