12.22.2007

The Darjeeling Limited


It might have been by virtue of lowered expectations, but I kind of loved Anderson's latest. Oh, I understand all the criticisms, even agree with most, but I don't really care: I like spending time in Andersonland, and he does, here, try a few new things. His frames are still filled to the brim with knick-knacks and his compositions are sometimes overly precious, but this film is quite a bit shaggier than his previous ones, and true emotion manages to wiggle itself into those unfinished spaces.

I don't think anyone has ever used Adrian Brody's awkward, gangly body so effectively. When he runs past Bill Murray to catch the train, it's a moment of pure comedy, almost a cartoon. But the relationship between the brothers is anything but cartoonish. Owen Wilson is more vulnerable here than he's ever been, without an ounce of smugness, and Schwartzman proves yet again that he's the ultimate Andersonlander, and most importantly you can believe them as brothers. Their dynamic is what keeps this film together.

Of course, I should probably address what happens after the brothers get kicked off the train. Quite a few critics felt the moment was undeserved. I'm not sure, also because (darn my addiction to review-reading) I knew what was coming. It certainly was a break with the rest of the film, but it didn't feel jarring, like the ending of the Life Aquatic did to me, and the flashback it leads to is probably the most mature thing Anderson's ever done.

So, yes, ok, when they got rid of their metaphorical luggage, I did think: "but there's one of those really cool Bose iPod speakers in there!", and it would be interesting to see what Anderson would do back on planet earth. But -while this film isn't quite a return to form- I enjoyed it immensely. Call me a hipster. I'd move to Andersonland anytime.

And really, how can you not walk out with a smile when over the credits, a long shot from an Indian train, you hear "Oh, Champs-Elysées"?

1 comment:

cjKennedy said...

I think you know where I stand on Anderson and this movie.

I know it's now cool to dismiss him, but whatever. I'm never comfortable being cool anyway.

Only time will tell where this one fits into the canon for me, but I was thoroughly charmed by it.

I enjoyed the familiar and appreciated the few new wrinkles that were tossed in.