It seems to me that, in general, people either really like Wes Anderson’s films, or they really don’t. I don’t think this is a matter of sophistication, or people “getting it”, or not. I think that, given his very distinct style, and the themes and nature of his storytelling and wit, either people really appreciate the films, or they can’t sit through them. I fall into the former category. Frankly, I think The Darjeeling Limited is brilliant.
The Darjeeling Limitedis a film about the three Whitman brothers: Peter (Adrian Brody), Jack (Jason Schwartzman), and Francis (Owen Wilson). They meet, at Francis’ request, aboard the Darjeeling Limited, a train in Indian, to embark upon a “spiritual journey”. It is the first time they’ve been together since their father’s funeral a year before.
As The Royal Tenenbaums, the film deals largely with the relationships between children and their parents. In the wake of their father’s death, and the brothers’ estrangement, each reacts a different way. Peter, married, starts taking on their father’s things–a watch, glasses, a car. Francis, likewise, starts adopting the habits and mannerisms of their mother. Jack, meanwhile, isolates himself, and writes short stories that remind readers of actual events, although Jack claims all his characters are fictional.
I like Anderson’s films for their minor redemptions. His characters undergo change over the course of the story, but neither they, nor their situations, are ever totally resolved, or made perfect. Their actions are flawed, and their resolutions do not make them saints–better people, almost certainly, but only slightly, which is something I find much easier to accept than when the Bad Guy becomes a good guy at the end of an action flick. Peter, Jack, and Francis are not benevolent or moral or honest, and in the end, they’re still selfish and foolish. But do learn something about what is genuinely important, and what’s not, and we leave them as they go off to make more mistakes and experience more tiny victories.
Naturally, getting from beginning to end is filled with Anderson’s array of dry wit and gags. Really, it’s wonderful stuff.