The Darjeeling Limited

The Darjeeling Limited ★★★★

Criterion Challenge 2022
Progress: 39/52
Prompt: Watch a film with a spine #500-600

I keep veering back and forth on this movie, but in the end I can't interpret it as anything other than satire. If the brothers hadn't wound up picking up exactly where they left off following an explicit repetition of the opening sequence, I might feel differently. As is, they haven't really learned much. It's nice that they're nicer to each other, but that only matters in the hermetically sealed container of their family wealth. Peter's still not joining poor Alice.

But that's where some of his skill lies. He takes these fairly unsympathetic characters and shows us their humanity without demanding sympathy. These three twerps didn't even figure out that they weren't going to learn anything in India! You can't like them, but you can understand them.

Anderson has said that this is a really personal film for him. When he was writing the screenplay, he realized he needed to head off to India to write some of it so he just grabbed Jason Schwartzman and Roman Coppola and went. That's a bit outside the resources of the average filmmaker. On the other hand, it explains how he can make the brothers real: he practically knows them.

And, of course, it's got all the precise fussy aesthetic you could want without being particularly staged. I have no idea how he pulled off a minimally invasive film shoot and still made every shot look like a precision drill, but that's Wes Anderson for you.

One more live-action full length Anderson film to go! And it's part of this challenge. I was clever back in January.

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