This weekend my Brother in the Sisters of Mercy and his lady invited us to see the latest Wes Anderson movie, The Darjeeling Limited, so duly after a night of masquerading about town, we dragged ourselves up and out to make the midday showing.
I know there are some people in this world who give Wes Anderson an absolute carte blanche, can do no wrong. I think that’s malarky. The man can do wrong, and does so often, but because the films have the earnestness of a thrift store cardigan worn by the ingenue in your freshman English literature survey class but whose number, alas, you never succeeded in getting, he gets away with cinematic sloppiness.
Don’t get me wrong, I thought Rushmore had an energy and a vitality to it that bespoke a fresh and honest new breath into film. Instead it seems that it was the segueway to what’s became an unbearably boring, egotistical, exploration of one’s own kitsch auteur-theory .
Je vous dois: The Darjeeling limited
The movie doesn’t start terribly, the prequel film “Hotel Chevalier” lets you know that there’s something very, very stunted with Mr. Schwartzman’s character. Peter Sartedt’s “Where Do You Go To My Lovely” plays (sounding quite a lot like Leonard Cohen) and Natalie Portman comes for, what appears to be, a trans-atlantic booty call. It’s a bit overdone and feels like someone acting in an amateurish American attempt to capture a sort of Bergman-esque spareness ( I can imagine actor John Cassavetes doing this part oh-so very well ), but serves to establish a bit of interest in the background story of this fellow.
The movie then cuts to “part 2” the movie proper and starts with an anxious Bill Murray riding sans fear, but very, very anxiously in one of the hellbent for Mach 2 Indian taxis that avoids pedicabs, motocabs, and a cow as Bill rushes to catch the train that shares the same name with the film. As Bill’s businessman runs to catch the train, he is passed by Adrien Brody who manages to catch the train with a self-satisfied exhaustion that continues to build the intrigue.
Regrettably, there it ends. Little did I know it, but Bill’s out-of-breath businessman stranded was the perfect visual metaphor for the rest of the film: it was already out of breath. From this point on it’s a series of discursive and, well, whiny, pleas by boy-men who can’t figure out what they’re supposed to do with their lives. Owen Wilson plays the third brother who arranged for the brothers to take a trip on this train as a togetherness exercise a year after their father’s funeral.
Change the train to an RV, add antics and Robin Williams, and you could have called it “RV”.
The characters do absolutely nothing interesting and every plot turn or character quirk is telegraphed, no, put on a great big Amber Alert board, 20 minutes ahead of the reveal. Any subtlety is foregone as they try to deal with the unresolved baggage thrust upon them by their father’s sudden death and their mother’s disappearance. And yes, there’s a reference to the end in that paragraph. I don’t feel the need to *Spoiler* it because it’s entirely obvious.
It was, a yawner.
It wouldn’t have been quite so insufferable had not this exact same territory been explored by Anderson himself in The Royal Tenenbaums but only 6 years ago. He’s returned to the topic with absolutely nothing to add to the topic.
I saw a quote at rottentomatoes that at a point in his career where he should be moving forward he’s going backwards. Yes. So right. It’s time for Anderson and his characters to bravely go to that world of people older than 30 who manage to pay their utility bill on time, and manage not to dwell in shadows of how it was easier when you had parents who did things for you and re-assured you that you had made the right decisions.
Here’s a growth opportunity for Anderson. Try writing a movie where the characters have real jobs versus limitless wealth which affords them the chance to lounge about pondering stupid bullshit questions and fetishizing stupid pop culture bullshit. I mean seriously, when was the last time a character in an Anderson movie had a job you saw them actually do ( and I don’t mean underwater explorer ). Last I can think of? Rushmore. Max and his dad were barbers.