The Darjeeling Limited…Sucketh

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.

Jeff

Comments

  1. says

    That’s kind of sad. I wanted to see this as a rental, but I guess I won’t now. The preview makes it seem like there is a lot that goes on…

  2. says

    Ooh. I heard the same thing from a few other people. I hate to hear it, too. We’ve been a big fan of Wes Anderson for a while.

    Oh, and “Wildcaaat…yeah.”

  3. Buzz says

    Many years ago someone said : All men know the use of the useful but nobody knows the use of the useless.

  4. JesseFord says

    This bums me out. I guess not even Natalie Portmans bare ass can save it (they did throw that short in the theaters, right?). I like Wes Anderson’s movies. And when I don’t like them, I love them. They always make me feel like I’m reading a good book. Something told me to stay away from this one. I’ll rent it.

  5. says

    Just saw it last night and I thought of this post. Possibly Anderson’s weakest to date, but I still liked it a lot. Though I’m a little confused. There’s not as much plot as his earlier movies, but did you walk out before or after the big life changing event? That seemed to be the crux of the movie so if you walked out before that, of course nothing happened. You only saw the character set-up portion, none of the character-changing portions at the end. If the argument goes that the characters were poorly fleshed out so the changes they go through were shallow and empty, I can understand that, even if I personally felt differently. I could also understand if you criticized the movie as another example of selfish westerners being saved by the magic exotic foreigners, but again I would feel differently.
    Personally, while I didn’t find the movie realistic (it is a Wes Anderson movie after all), I thought it was much more realistic than any of his previous movies, especially once the brothers become less self-absorbed and step off the train to both metaphorically and realistically interact with the real world instead of a tourist’s view from a window. Who knows, maybe I’m confusing more realistic with dirtier, but I thought that it at least attempted to evoke some sense of what rural life in India is like, as opposed to every other Wes Anderson movie which takes place in its own storybook world. It wasn’t the Calcutta Royal refers to in The Royal Tenenbaums where he meets Pagoda after an assassination attempt.