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The Darjeeling Limited (2007)

Director: Wes Anderson
Writers: Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola, and Jason Schwartzman

Owen Wilson Francis L. Whitman, eldest Whitman brother; he's been injured in a traffic accident and is seeking spiritual fulfillment for himself and his family

Adrien Brody Peter L. Whitman; his wife is pregnant and he's afraid of being a father

Jason Schwartzman Jack L. Whitman, a writer of short stories based on his own experiences

Amara Karan Rita, beautiful bored Indian train attendant who ruts with Jack

Wallace Wolodarsky Brendan, a strange man with a strange affliction that makes him bald

Waris Ahluwalia Chief steward on the Darjeeling Ltd, glorious in green turban and black beard

Angelica Houston Sister Patricia Whitman, mother of the Whitman boys; she's had enough of them

Bill Murray an unnamed businessman who misses the train; of inexplicable importance to the story

Although three writers are credited with the screenplay, The Darjeeling Limited has the looseness of an unscripted acting exercise. The three principal actors seem to be working from a synopsis or treatment rather than an actual script.

The movie comes in two parts: a 13-minute film called Hotel Chevalier in which Jason Schwartzman and Natalie Portman suffer sexual angst in a garish red and yellow Paris hotel room, and the 91-minute Darjeeling Limited in which Schwartzman joins his brothers for a train journey in India.

If the film were set anywhere but in India, it wouldn't be worth 91 minutes of anyone's life. The cinematography by Robert D. Yeoman, the glimpses of the Indian countryside, the faces of the people, and the eye-filling splashes of color provide the only entertainment the film possesses.

The trip is being engineered by the eldest brother, Francis, who, after a year of estrangement following their father's funeral, is attempting to bond with his brothers, whether they want to or not. When he fears they may not stay with him for the trip, he confiscates their passports.

Unknown to Peter and Jack, Francis is planning a reunion with their mother who stayed away from their father's funeral. She has become a nun in a remote Catholic mission in the foothills of the Himalayas. The secret negotiations are being handled by a strange secretarial person called Brendan who tires of Francis's insensitivity and quits.

When their foolish, immature behavior gets them ejected from the train, the brothers wander in the wilderness until they encounter three little boys who are crossing a rough river on a raft guided by a rope. When the rope breaks, the brothers go to the rescue, but one of the boys is dashed against the rocks and killed. The brothers take part in the boy's funeral and seemed to find the peace they did not find at their father's funeral.

That's it. At the end, as they hurry to catch a different train, they abandon the pile of luggage they've been dragging everywhere, and it may seem that they've shed their emotional baggage as well. But maybe not. When the eldest brother returns their passports, the other two tell him to keep them. It is as if, freed from a controlling father and controlling mother, they reject autonomy and turn themselves over to the controlling brother.

Not at all a satisfying film.
 

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