"The Darjeeling Limited" is very much a Wes Anderson film but even for people that aren't dedicated followers of the filmmaker, there's a lot to be enjoyed here. The plot follows three brothers travelling through India on the "Darjeeling Limited" (hence the name of the movie). The boys have not seen each other their father's funeral but after surviving a severe motorcycle incident, Francis (Owen Wilson) has arranged for Peter (Adrian Brody) and Jack (Jason Schwartzman) to meet him on the train. After his near-death experience, Francis tells his two brothers that he wants the three of them to reconnect and explore the wonders of India while secretly, he wants them to work together in tracking down their mother, who has for all intents and purposes abandoned the family completely. Along the way we get to know these strange characters, witness their weird quirks and follow them on their trek as they become determined to find their mom. Meanwhile, Jack obsessively keeps tabs on his ex-girlfriend's answering machine, Francis' controlling behavior and eccentricities about organization threaten to drive the three men further apart and Peter is still having a hard time letting go of his father's things. There's going to be drama, humor and a bit of reconciliation as the three set aside their differences and learn to become closer... but only to an extent.
Having not seen many of Wes Anderson's films, I can't say if this one follows the same sort of flow, but the loose direction that the story takes was the most enjoyable part of the film. While there is a clear destination for the characters, they're taking their time to get there and along the way get into all sorts of small, but amusing adventures. We're not talking big sequences where the characters end up accidentally stealing a rare artifact or get arrested by the police, we're talking about weird, but believable stuff, like getting robbed while in the market, arguing amongst each other about mundane things that have been lingering on for years or striking up a short romance with some of the people that they meet. Generally, these characters don't get into anything fantastic because they're so odd and quirky on their own that their normal, everyday interactions are more than enough to carry the film. There's also kind of a mystery or "what happened on the day of the funeral" that is told in parts throughout, so that's something that breaks up this story and is fun to piece together. For the audience there are some big laughs but mostly it's the kind of story you sit quietly and enjoy, admiring the gorgeous landscapes and excellent cinematography (I really enjoyed the colour palette, it was memorably beautiful) while not really being able to determine how close to the end of the story you are at any given time. It will leave you with a smile on your face and a light heart, hoping that you might see the characters again, but not demanding a sequel.
It's very light comedy and not one that will necessarily have a big impact from you, but it's the kind of film you can kick back, watch with your family or your friends and thoroughly enjoy. There's a decent amount of re-watch value with the mystery being expanded upon towards the end and as you learn more about the characters and see some of their quirks and where they came from, it will be fun to pick out the clues as to how their relationship became as strained as it is in the beginning of the film if the story really grabs you. I can see some people not loving it, but it's very enjoyable to watch and it's undeniable that the movie looks gorgeous. Might even inspire you to take a vacation and reconnect with some important people in your life. (On Blu-ray, December 28, 2013)