I wouldn’t consider myself a huge Wes Anderson fan, but I always enjoy his movies. His films are always visually stunning, with a quirky retro aesthetic. His humor is dry, but once you get it it’s really quite delightful. The soundtrack to each film is always perfect. The storytelling is fun and has a lot of heart. I totally get that Anderson is not for everyone, but if you haven’t seen any of his films you should definitely give them a shot.
The Darjeeling Limited is probably my favorite Wes Anderson films. The Royal Tenenbaums gets a lot of love, and it was my first introduction to the director, but I find Limited a bit more relatable and lot more beautiful. This movie follows three brothers (Owen Wilson, Adrian Brody, and Jason Schwartzman) as they travel through India and try to reconnect with each other after their father’s death. It explores the differences between the brothers, but ultimately reveals that they’re a lot more alike than they initially want to admit. There’s real chemistry between these actors. They may not look anything like each other, but you believe that they’re brothers.
The setting is gorgeous. Watching this movie was the first time I really had a desire to visit India. The landscapes and colors are the perfect backdrop to a story about self reflection. I’ve always loved the vibrant colors in photographs of India, and Anderson employs these to great effect. Anderson’s typical timeless/retro aesthetic also works well against the subcontinent backdrop, perhaps better than it works in some of his other movies.
And the soundtrack! Typical Wes Anderson in every way, but he’s so good at scoring film that this is not a criticism. Given the Indian setting much of the score is directly inspired by the country’s music. Anderson effortlessly blends this traditional music with Western pop and rock. My personal favorite is “Aux Champs-Élysées” by Joe Dassin, which plays over the end credits. I first learned this song way back in 8th grade French class, and still remember the chorus to this day. Of course mine is a slightly garbled, horribly pronounced version, but it’s still strange the things that stick with you.
I am going to come right out and say it: I don’t know what the big deal is about Wes Anderson. I don’t find the films he directs funny at all. The only ones I like are Steve Zissou and Fantastic Mr Fox. Everyone raves about The Royal Tenenbaums, but I just don’t get it. I don’t find them funny at all. I feel the world is playing a practical joke on me by releasing this film that every critic I know and people whose opinion I respect tell me it is hilarious, but then when I watch the film, I laugh maybe twice. I don’t get their appeal at all. Maybe I am missing something, but I don’t find Anderson’s films good at all. The reason I own Darjeeling Limited is for the short ten minute film at the beginning called Hotel Chevalier. It is a prequel to the film and has Natalie Portman involved in what is currently her only nude scene. I am aware this makes me sound like a dirty old man, but this film is over six years old and I was very single at the time. What I am trying to say is that I regret nothing.
The film follow three brothers (Owen Wilson, Adrian Brody and Jason Schwartzman) who are traveling across India. They hope to reconnect after their father’s death a year earlier. Owen Wilson is the brother who gets the most laughs from me in this film. He is quite amusing as their controlling oldest brother, who has every detail of their trip planned. His borderline OCD planning of their holiday is probably the only time I laughed throughout the film. The film chronicles the three brothers’ journey across India to eventually meet up with their mother (Anjelica Huston).
Like I said, I don’t get Wes Anderson. I’m sure I’m missing something, but I am just not grabbed by his films at all. To me, they seem like a drama that is trying to be funny, and mostly failing.