THE DARJEELING LIMITED
Cast: Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody
Direction : Wes Anderson
Rating : *** ½
They are an odd trio. Three estranged brothers, who haven't seen each other since their father's funeral a year ago, grudgingly get together for a train trip across India. Their polarised personalities spark off a comic, if somewhat sketchy, account of lives in disarray.
Based on an original script co-authored by director Anderson (The Royal Tenenbaums), The Darjeeling Limited probes the complications of family ties and sibling rivalry.
Of the brothers, the eldest (Wilson) is a control freak who insists that they follow the meticulous hour-by-hour itinerary that he's drawn up. The youngest, a short story writer (Jason Schwartzman), remains obsessed with his ex-girlfriend even while indulging in a passionate liaison with the train stewardess (Amara Karan). As for the moony middle brother (Brody), he's weighed down by anxieties about becoming a father.
The gadabout trio hops aboard the eponymous train in the hope of renewing their brotherly bond and attaining spiritual solace. Their quest, however, veers rapidly off course when they are booted out of the train following a mishap involving a can of pepper spray. The squabbling siblings are stranded in the middle of nowhere with mounds of designer luggage.
In the overly symbolic climax, the quirky brothers cast off the baggage, both physical as well as emotional, before re-boarding the train.
Besides exotic local colour, the film offers plenty of striking vignettes like a poignant encounter with villagers mourning the death of a child and a visit to a Himalayan monastery where their somewhat eccentric mother (Anjelica Huston) has become a nun.
Anderson adroitly weaves snatches of music scored by Satyajit Ray for Charulata, Kanchenjungha and Shakespearewallah alongside well-chosen retro pop-rock tunes. The cinematography by the director's long-time collaborator, Robert Yeoman, as well as the production design, are super-slick. Convincing performances are elicited from the entire ensemble of actors.
Self indulgent, yet oddly upbeat, The Darjeeling Limited certainly earns its passage to India.