Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXI, No. 44
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
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For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.

THE THREE BROTHERS REACH NIRVANA: The Whitman brothers, Jack (Jason Schwartzman, left), Peter (Adrien Brody, center) and the eldest, Francis (Owen Wilson) appear to have finally found themselves and learned to live with their differences as siblings during their soul searching railroad trip across India.

The Darjeeling Limited: Estranged Siblings Seek Peace and Reconciliation

The Whitman brothers hadn’t spoken to each other after their father died about a year ago. That isn’t much of a surprise, given the sibling rivalry which prevents them from finding any harmony whenever they’re together. This is because the eldest, Francis (Owen Wilson), has always dominated Peter (Adrien Brody) and Jack (Jason Schwartzman) and treated them like children.

So, of course, Francis is now orchestrating every detail of their trip across India in search of spiritual enlightenment and to promote bonding between the brothers. Each destination of their itinerary has been printed out by Francis’ able assistant Brendan (Wallace Wolodarsky) on laminated sheets which set out exactly what to expect.

Their goal is to settle their differences and find themselves while traveling across India’s desert aboard a train called the Darjeeling Limited. Achieving peace of mind proves to be difficult, however, because each of the brothers is currently emotionally upset.

Heavily-bandaged Francis has barely survived a motorcycle crash; Peter’s wife is seven-and-a-half months pregnant, but he’s not sure he’s ready to be a parent; and heartbroken Jack has been dumped by his girlfriend (Natalie Portman) in Paris.

In addition to spending time with each other, the Whitmans also plan to track down their born-again mother who has changed her name to Sister Patricia (Anjelica Huston) and lives in a convent in the foothills of the Himalayas. They want to know why she refused to attend their father’s funeral.

Getting there is all the fun in The Darjeeling Limited, the latest dramatic comedy by Wes Anderson. The film is his best since Rushmore, and he has again perfected that trademark wry sense of humor in the new movie.

Anderson draws upon the services of a pool of regulars he’s worked with in earlier films. Among the actors who have appeared in his prior productions are Owen Wilson, Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, Anjelica Huston, Wallace Wolodarsky, Waris Ahluwalia, and Kumar Pallana. Thus, this seasoned group of actors was able to execute the director’s vision accurately.

The Darjeeling Limited is that rare comedy that offers a refreshing alternative to the brainless bodily function fare which has come to typify the genre. In addition to all the sidesplitting badinage, the movie is a visual treat as well, setting its players in breathtaking panoramic backdrops. The movie is the jewel in Wes Anderson’s crown.

Don’t arrive late, because The Darjeeling Limited is preceded by an illuminating 13-minute prequel entitled Hotel Chevalier which explains the development of the failed relationship between Jack and his girlfriend.

Excellent (4 stars). Rated R for profanity. Running time: 91 minutes. Studio: Fox Searchlight Pictures.

For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.

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