The Darjeeling Limited Reviews
Francis is that controlling big brother who kind of acts like a bully, but he's subtle and sweet about it. But the brothers can't take it, erupting into a brawl that gets them evicted from the train. They've also gotten a letter from Sister Patricia Whitman, who is their mother, asking them not to come. Now everything seems hopelessly pointless.
There's a strategically placed scene by a campfire, which seems to put our minds at ease about a situation that should be uneasy. Anderson seems self-aware here, that we the audience don't usually feel much danger in his boxed world, we're never too far off the beaten path given his visual style; we're safe. So he follows it with a scene that changes our perception of him, the Whitmans encountering boys in trouble at a river. Peter is unable to save the last boy, a shocking turn, our first bit of realism with quirky humor: encountering death. They are further off the path now, resorting to the Indian village of the deceased boy. The father of the boy grieves, Peter getting his own spiritual taste, feeling for the guilty and remorseful for his inability to save the boy. It seems like the spirituality should be dwindling, but not for Peter, who is glad to be invited to the boy's funeral instead of being outcast.
There's an abrupt jump that confused me - they're out of India, Francis' bandages removed, Jack's mustache shaved; I didn't know if it was flashing back or ahead. We meet Alice, Peter's wife, who we've only heard about for nearly an hour. But the hour mark itself shows us a big change from where we were earlier: the brothers are united, looking almost like a gang as they back a tow trucker down who gets in their way. They're uniform. But the scene is capped with Francis withholding information - they seem united, but yet again he demonstrates his historical controlling nature.
The prototypical Wes Anderson boxed-staging is represented a few minutes later... pan from brothers waiting for bus, to the cattle in front of them, to the boy on their left, and then to the path on their right. The camera is at it's own four-way intersection, swiveling to capture a perfectly centered shot at each pivot point. Anderson also accompanies his film with tremendous musical choices that complement the flavor, style, tone, and energy of each scene.
As we near the end of the film, the ultimate symbolism appears to match an earlier shot of Peter running onto the back of Darjeeling with his luggage, this time contrasted by all the brothers running onto a train, but tossing their luggage aside. This tends to be the result of these larking movies, it's about letting it all go, leaving it all behind to get somewhere else in life, cutting cords with the weight that's held them down for so long, everything they've been holding on to. It's an unsatisfying ending for me because I don't agree with this so-called spiritual moment. It's a popular view among spiritualists to let go of everything and just be this naked animal in the world. But I think it shows a lack of appreciation for the things we gather in life.
I've seen a lot of loose threaded movies lately, leaving so much story incomplete, and not always for the sake of a sequel. It's frustrating, there's obviously more story to tell. The film is missing a whole third act. It felt like we reached the end of act two and are gearing up for another 25-30 minutes of film, but the credits roll. It's also displeasing to have the likes of Bill Murray and Natalie Portman making mere cameos. It looked like Murray had a story to tell, but it was a tease, and he's set aside.
The brothers did nothing after all.