Feb 20, 2008

[Movies] The Darjeeling Limited

The Darjeeling LimitedBack when the Cinemas at Glorietta 4 were the greatest thing for Manila-based movie-goers, the very first film I watched in their cinema dedicated to art films was Rushmore, a rather strange, quirky yet intelligent film. That's when Wes Anderson first came to my attention and I learned to appreciate his movies. I may not have avidly followed his career over the years, but when I do chance upon his works, I know I'll be in for a rather interesting ride.

Fast forward to last Sunday, February 17, 2008 and my partner and I ended up a Greenbelt 3 planning a multiple-movie day. Lo and behold it turned out that The Darjeeling Limited was showing. We had very little idea what the movie was about but the stars were interesting, Wes Anderson was behind it and upon further scrutiny of the movie poster we saw that Anjelica Huston was in it to boot. Oh yeah, we were so watching it.

And I, for one, was not at all disappointed.

The Darjeeling Limited is a quirky tale about three brothers who embark on a "spiritual journey" together through India in an attempt to somehow rekindle the former strength of their relationship. That on its own makes it sound like a boring and mundane tale but when such big name actors involved in a Wes Anderson production, you know there has to be a lot more to it than it seems.

The brothers are (in order) Francis (Owen Wilson), Peter (Adrien Brody) and Jack Jason Schwartzman). The brothers Whitman are highly different in appearance and some quirks (Jack walks around barefoot the entire movie) and also similar in others (all tend to use various over-the-counter medicines and painkillers to attempt to get high and all smoke), as is the case with all siblings. Throughout the course of the tale they get into various situations of varying absurdity while slowly unraveling the various secrets each one holds to his chest, all the while heading to a different destination on the train line known as the Darjeeling Limited.

I found the film to be quite the piece of work in terms of cinematography, use of camera panning and movement and the crafting of stunning visual sequences. Many of them revolve around the large (and complete) collection of Marc Jacobs-designed Louis Vuitton luggage set against the stark scenes of India. Given a lot of the sequences happen withing the cramped confines of a train cabin, it's interesting to note how Anderson managed to make the scenes so dynamic and versatile. Plus there was the fact that the movie actually starts with a short film Anderson released before the full film entitled Hotel Chevalier, which features some of the best writing I've seen in a short film.

The combination of the three lead actors was also surprisingly good and I found myself not treating Owen Wilson as the comedic actor he usually is and more as a serious actor in a slightly comedic role, one set against a story that is both comical and hard-hitting at the same time.

Oh, and don't get me started on Adrien Brody. After watching this movie, I have now sworn an oath to allow him to sleep with me one day, LOL. He is just so beautiful in this movie and pretty much so statuesque as compared to the others and yet also surprisingly fragile and vulnerable despite his towering height. What can I say? I'm smitten! LOL!

I must admit that this movie is not for everyone and many will expect a comedic laugh fest the likes of Owen Wilson's other works. Even the audience that we watched the movie with was laughing at far too many points of the film, I thought, as if they were forcing more humor than there actually was. Anderson's pieces have been humorous, yes, but more along the lines of dry wit and sarcasm set against dead pan delivery.

Yeah, that makes it precisely my cup of tea.

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