Plot summary (with possible spoilers): Francis (played by Owen Wilson), Peter (Adrien Brody), and Jack (Jason Schwartzman) Whitman are three American brothers who haven’t spoken to each other in over a year. By arrangement, they meet on a train called the Darjeeling Limited for what is intended to be a “spiritual journey” through India. Francis has planned the journey, which is to include some surprise stops on the way, and is supposed to finish with a reunion with mother Patricia (Anjelica Huston), who long ago abandoned the boys and their father in order to join a convent in India.
The brothers’ personalities are markedly different, which causes some conflict and friction on the journey. Moreover, each is dealing with his own unique set of problems in addition to what’s currently happening to them. For instance, Francis shows up on the train with a heavily bandaged head and a noticeable limp, the results of a motorcycle accident. Peter’s wife is expecting the couple’s first baby, yet instead of being happy about the prospect, Peter for some reason believes that they’ll get a divorce soon. Jack is trying to get over a controlling ex-girlfriend, but can’t seem to stop listening to her answering machine messages at every chance — even after he starts up an affair with Sweet Lime (Amara Karan), the train’s stewardess.
As the film progresses, the men find themselves in one strange situation after another, particularly after they get kicked off the train in the middle of the desert for breaking a few rules. And though nothing seems to go right on the journey, the men do discover a few worthwhile things about themselves and each other along the way.
My Reaction: I remember wanting to see The Darjeeling Limited back when it first came out, but for one reason or another, I never got around to it until just recently. I thought the film had received rather good reviews when it was released, so I was looking forward to a great story. Unfortunately, nothing ever really developed.
First, I want to make it clear that I’m not a Wes Anderson fan, and though I found films like Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums amusing, I don’t go crazy for his brand of comedy. So in this regard, I didn’t expect to emerge from this viewing gushing with praise for the film. Still, I was hoping to be treated to a good story, but as I said, that didn’t happen. In fact, the events of the film seemed so completely random and unconnected to the characters’ lives that I just didn’t get the point. What exactly was discovered on this journey of self-enlightenment? That each of the Whitman brothers has his own particular set of neuroses that won’t be “cured” anytime in the near future? Big deal! That applies to nearly everyone.
I wish I could say that some of the acting performance made up for deficiencies in the script, but that’s not really the case. Owen Wilson and Jason Schwartzman are as annoying as ever, and Adrien Brody just seemed completely out of place in a film like this.
Overall, I can’t say I liked The Darjeeling Limited very much. I guess Wes Anderson’s films appeal to a certain demographic, and I’m just not part of that group. If you think misadventures with pepper spray and seeing someone wear their dead father’s accessories are a hoot, then you’ll love this movie. As for me, I give it 1 star out of 5.