We rarely walk out of movies, but half-way through The Darjeeling Limited, we did exactly that. While we’ve enjoyed other movies by the director Wes Anderson–Bottle Rocket and Rushmore in particular–The Darjeeling Limited is bankrupt in terms of character and plot. If nothing happened but the characters were interesting, we would have kept watching. If something had happened even if the characters weren’t interesting, we would have kept watching.
But the sad fact is: this is a film in which the characters are boring and very little, if anything, happens. Worse, all three main characters–brothers played by Adrian Brody, Owen Wilson, and Jason Schwartzman–are low-energy, deadpan types, although Wilson has at least a little more differentiation to his performance. Obviously, though, this is the director’s choice. And a terrible choice it is. Even muted by their father’s death, these people are not only petty and bland, they’re practically cyphers. You can chuckle every once in awhile at their pratfalls–like buying a deadly cobra for no apparent reason–but, on the whole, you sit there watching this movie and you think: Why the f— was this made? What is the point? (There was some aspect of this to the tepid The Life Aquatic, but some individual scenes made that movie more interesting.)
At a time when some American directors are taking real chances, Anderson has chosen to disappear further and further up his own pretentious ass. This movie is so removed from life, so stylized and fond of itself that it chokes on its own hipness, it’s own sense of being cool.